CMAJ 2018 Oct;190(39):E1153-E1161
Department of Epidemiology (Wang, Du, Yang, M. Li, Zhang, Liu, Song, Cao), Second Military Medical University; Department of Chronic Diseases (Han, Zhao, H. Li), Center for Disease Control and Prevention of Yangpu District, Shanghai, China
Background: Understanding how socioeconomic events influence cause-specific mortality is essential for optimizing disease-control strategies. We characterized long-term trends in cause-specific mortality in a stable population from a very large urban centre.
Methods: We derived population data from 1974 to 2015 on vital status, demographics and causes of death from the death registration system in Yangpu District, Shanghai, China. We examined temporal trends in mortality and assessed the effects of age, period and birth cohort.
Results: Over 41 879 864 person-years of follow-up, we analyzed 290 332 deaths: 3.80% from communicable conditions (group 1), 86.50% from noncommunicable diseases (group 2), and 5.56% from injuries (group 3). Age-standardized mortality decreased after 1988 for group 1 (average annual percentage change [AAPC] -6.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] -9.3 to -4.1), after 1995 for group 2 (AAPC -2.9, 95% CI -3.5 to -2.3), and after 1994 for group 3 (AAPC -5.4, 95% CI -6.3 to -4.5), after improvements in public health and clinical service infrastructure and the removal of polluting industries during the 1980s. We observed increased mortality from group 2 and group 3 causes in those born between 1955 and 1965, a period that included the Great Chinese Famine. Cause-specific mortality risks increased in those born after 1949 for cancer and diabetes only.
Interpretation: Birth cohorts exposed to extreme starvation in early life had increased premature cause-specific mortality in later life. Decreased cause-specific mortality followed improvements in public health, medical infrastructure and pollution control, but not for cancer or diabetes, likely because of exposure to new risk factors.