Social, lifestyle, and biological risk factors of age-related diseases and mortality
Epidemiological studies have been enormously successful in identifying risk factors for age-related diseases and mortality. However, in contrast to the vast literature on risk factors that are relatively proximal causes of disease (e.g., cortisol level), relatively less attention has been paid to the distal or fundamental causes of disease (e.g., income, education). It is vital to examine the fundamental causes of disease as the social factors entail resources such as knowledge, money, and social connections that allow people to avoid risks and adopt protective strategies. The UK Biobank provides unprecedented opportunities in studying social and lifestyle risk factors of age-related diseases and mortality because it includes not only prospective records of health outcomes of a large sample but also detailed information on the social environment that individuals live in and information on their lifestyle behaviors. Our study has four aims: 1) Examine the social determinants of age-related diseases and mortality, 2) Investigate the associations between social determinants and lifestyle behaviors, 3) Examine the lifestyle risk factors of age-related diseases and mortality, and 4) Evaluate the interplay of social determinants, lifestyle factors, and genotype on people's health. The project is estimated to last for 3 years. Contextualizing risk factors are critical for developing targeted and effective interventions to improve people's health and reduce health inequalities in that it helps to identify populations at high risk.