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Middle-aged men with multimorbidity at greatest risk of death

By Bhautesh Jani and Frances Mair

Our study published in BMC Medicine [1], found that multimorbidity is associated with a higher risk of death from cancer, vascular conditions and all causes of death – even after accounting for lifestyle or demographic factors. The effect of multiple long-term conditions (LTCs) on higher mortality risk was largest among men between 37-49 years.

The study used the UK Biobank cohort (approx. half million adults) and found that the type of LTC, as opposed to the number of LTC, may have an important role to play in understanding the relationship between multimorbidity and death.

This is the first study to examine the relationship of multimorbidity with cancer mortality and we have shown a dose-response relationship between number of LTCs and cancer mortality.

Younger participants, especially men, were observed to have a relatively higher risk of mortality with increasing number of LTCs, and that certain combinations of conditions were associated with a particularly higher risk of death. Going forward, further research is needed to study the impact and management of multimorbidity in middle aged adults, as they may be at higher risk of early death.

1. Jani BD, Hanlon P, Nicholl BI, et al. Relationship between multimorbidity, demographic factors and mortality: findings from the UK Biobank cohort. BMC Med 2019;17(1):74. doi: 10.1186/s12916-019-1305-x

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