Pitsavos and colleagues published a paper in 2003 on the Seven Countries Study. They followed up a cohort from Corfu, 40 years after the original recruitment into the study. The researchers were primarily interested in coronary heart disease outcomes but what I found more interesting were the characteristics of the sample.
Firstly by selecting the characteristics, there is a risk of selection bias. Secondly a study would have a primary outcome and a risk that positive findings for secondary outcomes may be due to chance. The more of these secondary outcomes you look at, the more likely you are going to find false positives.
That aside, there were 67 men surviving 40 years after recruitment into the study (529 men were recruited into the study originally). Half of the original sample were farmers. The average age was 85 (rounding up). 94% of the sample lived in their own home. 58% described themselves as optimistic. 7% were described as working professionally. 87% were physically active and physical activity ranged from 5-7 times per week. 90% had an afternoon siesta. 75% drank wine and the average was 14 x 100ml glasses per week. 21% had a Geriatric Depression Scale score > 5 (a threshold for caseness but which does not substitute for clinical assessment – so a score over 5 does not necessarily imply depression). 85% ate vegetables every day. 83% ate fruits every day. 87% ate bread every day. 95% consumed olive oil every day. 5% ate meat every day. 23% ate eggs every day. 21% consumed dairy products every day.
We can’t really answer any questions by citing this data. The authors have answered questions about coronary heart disease using established methodology.
Instead we can paint a picture of one cohort that participated in the original seven countries study.
Appendix – Full Citation
Pitsavos C, Panagiotakos DB, Menotti A, Chrysohoou C, Skoumas J, Stefanadis C,
Dontas A, Toutouzas P. Prev Cardiol. 2003 Summer;6(3):155-60. Forty-year follow-up of coronary heart disease mortality and its predictors: the Corfu cohort of the seven countries study.
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