[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Poor sanitation is thought to be a major cause of enteric infections among young children. However, there are no previously published randomized trials to measure the health impacts of large-scale sanitation programs. India's Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) is one such program that seeks to end the practice of open defecation by changing social norms and behaviors, and providing technical support and financial subsidies. The objective of this study was to measure the effect of the TSC implemented with capacity building support from the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program in Madhya Pradesh on availability of individual household latrines (IHLs), defecation behaviors, and child health (diarrhea, highly credible gastrointestinal illness [HCGI], parasitic infections, anemia, growth).
PLoS Medicine 08/2014; 11(8):e1001709. · 15.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The 2010 global burden of disease (GBD) study represents the latest effort to estimate the global burden of disease and injuries and the associated risk factors. Like previous GBD studies, this latest iteration reflects a continuing evolution in methods, scope and evidence base. Since the first GBD Study in 1990, the burden of diarrhoeal disease and the burden attributable to inadequate water and sanitation have fallen dramatically. While this is consistent with trends in communicable disease and child mortality, the change in attributable risk is also due to new interpretations of the epidemiological evidence from studies of interventions to improve water quality. To provide context for a series of companion papers proposing alternative assumptions and methods concerning the disease burden and risks from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene, we summarise evolving methods over previous GBD studies. We also describe an alternative approach using population intervention modelling. We conclude by emphasising the important role of GBD studies and the need to ensure that policy on interventions such as water and sanitation be grounded on methods that are transparent, peer-reviewed and widely accepted.
Tropical Medicine & International Health 06/2014; · 2.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective
To assess the impact of inadequate water and sanitation on diarrhoeal disease in low- and middle-income settings.Methods
The search strategy used Cochrane Library, MEDLINE & PubMed, Global Health, Embase and BIOSIS supplemented by screening of reference lists from previously published systematic reviews, to identify studies reporting on interventions examining the effect of drinking water and sanitation improvements in low- and middle-income settings published between 1970 and May 2013. Studies including randomised controlled trials, quasi-randomised trials with control group, observational studies using matching techniques and observational studies with a control group where the intervention was well defined were eligible. Risk of bias was assessed using a modified Ottawa–Newcastle scale. Study results were combined using meta-analysis and meta-regression to derive overall and intervention-specific risk estimates.ResultsOf 6819 records identified for drinking water, 61 studies met the inclusion criteria, and of 12 515 records identified for sanitation, 11 studies were included. Overall, improvements in drinking water and sanitation were associated with decreased risks of diarrhoea. Specific improvements, such as the use of water filters, provision of high-quality piped water and sewer connections, were associated with greater reductions in diarrhoea compared with other interventions.Conclusions
The results show that inadequate water and sanitation are associated with considerable risks of diarrhoeal disease and that there are notable differences in illness reduction according to the type of improved water and sanitation implemented.
Tropical Medicine & International Health 05/2014; · 2.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Complier average causal effects (CACE) estimate the impact of an intervention among treatment compliers in randomized trials. Methods used to estimate CACE have been outlined for parallel-arm trials (e.g., using an instrumental variables (IV) estimator) but not for other randomized study designs. Here, we propose a method for estimating CACE in randomized stepped wedge trials, where experimental units cross over from control conditions to intervention conditions in a randomized sequence. We illustrate the approach with a cluster-randomized drinking water trial conducted in rural Mexico from 2009 to 2011. Additionally, we evaluated the plausibility of assumptions required to estimate CACE using the IV approach, which are testable in stepped wedge trials but not in parallel-arm trials. We observed small increases in the magnitude of CACE risk differences compared with intention-to-treat estimates for drinking water contamination (risk difference (RD) = -22% (95% confidence interval (CI): -33, -11) vs. RD = -19% (95% CI: -26, -12)) and diarrhea (RD = -0.8% (95% CI: -2.1, 0.4) vs. RD = -0.1% (95% CI: -1.1, 0.9)). Assumptions required for IV analysis were probably violated. Stepped wedge trials allow investigators to estimate CACE with an approach that avoids the stronger assumptions required for CACE estimation in parallel-arm trials. Inclusion of CACE estimates in stepped wedge trials with imperfect compliance could enhance reporting and interpretation of the results of such trials.
American journal of epidemiology 04/2014; · 5.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective
To estimate the burden of diarrhoeal diseases from exposure to inadequate water, sanitation and hand hygiene in low- and middle-income settings and provide an overview of the impact on other diseases.Methods
For estimating the impact of water, sanitation and hygiene on diarrhoea, we selected exposure levels with both sufficient global exposure data and a matching exposure-risk relationship. Global exposure data were estimated for the year 2012, and risk estimates were taken from the most recent systematic analyses. We estimated attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) by country, age and sex for inadequate water, sanitation and hand hygiene separately, and as a cluster of risk factors. Uncertainty estimates were computed on the basis of uncertainty surrounding exposure estimates and relative risks.ResultsIn 2012, 502 000 diarrhoea deaths were estimated to be caused by inadequate drinking water and 280 000 deaths by inadequate sanitation. The most likely estimate of disease burden from inadequate hand hygiene amounts to 297 000 deaths. In total, 842 000 million diarrhoea deaths are estimated to be caused by this cluster of risk factors, which amounts to 1.5% of the total disease burden and 58% of diarrhoeal diseases. In children under 5 years old, 361 000 deaths could be prevented, representing 5.5% of deaths in that age group.Conclusions
This estimate confirms the importance of improving water and sanitation in low- and middle-income settings for the prevention of diarrhoeal disease burden. It also underscores the need for better data on exposure and risk reductions that can be achieved with provision of reliable piped water, community sewage with treatment and hand hygiene.
Tropical Medicine & International Health 04/2014; · 2.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Use of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) for monitoring beach water quality is based on their co-occurrence with human pathogens, a relationship that can be dramatically altered by fate and transport processes after leaving the human intestine. We conducted a prospective cohort study at Avalon Beach, California (USA), where the indicator relationship is potentially affected by the discharge of sewage-contaminated groundwater and by solar radiation levels at this shallow, relatively quiescent beach. The goals of this study were to determine: 1) if swimmers exposed to marine water were at higher risk of illness than non-swimmers; 2) if FIB measured in marine water were associated with swimmer illness, and; 3) if the associations between FIB and swimmer health were modified by either submarine groundwater discharge or solar radiation levels. There were 7317 individuals recruited during the summers of 2007-08, 6165 (84%) of whom completed follow-up within two weeks of the beach visit. A total of 703 water quality samples were collected across multiple sites and time periods during recruitment days and analyzed for FIB using both culture-based and molecular methods. Adjusted odds ratios (AOR) indicated that swimmers who swallowed water were more likely to experience Gastrointestinal Illness (GI Illness) within three days of their beach visit than non-swimmers, and that this risk was significantly elevated when either submarine groundwater discharge was high (AOR [95% CI]:2.18 [1.22-3.89]) or solar radiation was low (2.45 [1.25-4.79]). The risk of GI Illness was not significantly elevated for swimmers who swallowed water when groundwater discharge was low or solar radiation was high. Associations between GI Illness incidence and FIB levels (Enterococcus EPA Method 1600) among swimmers who swallowed water were not significant when we did not account for groundwater discharge, but were strongly associated when groundwater discharge was high (1.85 [1.06, 3.23]) compared to when it was low (0.77 [0.42, 1.42]; test of interaction: P = 0.03). These results demonstrate the need to account for local environmental conditions when monitoring for, and making decisions about, public health at recreational beaches. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Water Research 03/2014; 59C:23-36. · 4.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Water distribution systems are vulnerable to performance deficiencies that can cause (re)contamination of treated water and plausibly lead to increased risk of gastrointestinal illness (GII) in consumers.
It is well established that large system disruptions in piped water networks can cause GII outbreaks. We hypothesized that routine network problems can also contribute to background levels of waterborne illness and conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the impact of distribution system deficiencies on endemic GII.
We reviewed published studies that compare direct tap water consumption to consumption of tap water re-treated at the point of use (POU) and studies of specific system deficiencies such as breach of physical or hydraulic pipe integrity and lack of disinfectant residual.
In settings with network malfunction, consumers of tap versus POU-treated water had increased GII (incidence density ratio (IDR) = 1.34; 95% CI: 1.00, 1.79). The subset of non-blinded studies showed a significant association between GII and tap versus POU-treated water consumption (IDR = 1.52; 95% CI: 1.05, 2.20), but there was no association based on studies that blinded participants to their POU water treatment status (IDR = 0.98; 95% CI: 0.90, 1.08). Among studies focusing on specific network deficiencies, GII was associated with temporary water outages (relative risk = 3.26; 95% CI: 1.48, 7.19) as well as chronic outages in intermittently operated distribution systems (odds ratio = 1.61; 95% CI: 1.26, 2.07).
Tap water consumption is associated with GII in malfunctioning distribution networks. System deficiencies such as water outages also are associated with increased GII, suggesting a potential health risk for consumers served by piped water networks.
Environmental Health Perspectives 03/2014; · 7.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Efforts to monitor malaria transmission increasingly use cross-sectional surveys to estimate transmission intensity from seroprevalence data using malarial antibodies. To date, seroconversion rates estimated from cross-sectional surveys have not been compared to rates estimated in prospective cohorts. Our objective was to compare seroconversion rates estimated in a prospective cohort with those from a cross-sectional survey in a low-transmission population.
The analysis included two studies from Haiti: a prospective cohort of 142 children ages ≤11 years followed for up to 9 years, and a concurrent cross-sectional survey of 383 individuals ages 0-90 years old. From all individuals, we analyzed 1,154 blood spot specimens for the malaria antibody MSP-119 using a multiplex bead antigen assay. We classified individuals as positive for malaria using a cutoff derived from the mean plus 3 standard deviations in antibody responses from a negative control set of unexposed individuals. We estimated prospective seroconversion rates from the longitudinal cohort based on 13 incident seroconversions among 646 person-years at risk. We also estimated seroconversion rates from the cross-sectional survey using a reversible catalytic model fit with maximum likelihood. We found the two approaches provided consistent results: the seroconversion rate for ages ≤11 years was 0.020 (0.010, 0.032) estimated prospectively versus 0.023 (0.001, 0.052) in the cross-sectional survey.
The estimation of seroconversion rates using cross-sectional data is a widespread and generalizable problem for many infectious diseases that can be measured using antibody titers. The consistency between these two estimates lends credibility to model-based estimates of malaria seroconversion rates using cross-sectional surveys. This study also demonstrates the utility of including malaria antibody measures in multiplex assays alongside targets for vaccine coverage and other neglected tropical diseases, which together could comprise an integrated, large-scale serological surveillance platform.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(4):e93684. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Current guidelines recommend the use of Escherichia coli (EC) or thermotolerant ("fecal") coliforms (FC) as indicators of fecal contamination in drinking water. Despite their broad use as measures of water quality, there remains limited evidence for an association between EC or FC and diarrheal illness: a previous review found no evidence for a link between diarrhea and these indicators in household drinking water.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(9):e107429. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Studies of health risks associated with recreational water exposure require investigators to make choices about water quality indicator averaging techniques, exposure definitions, follow-up periods, and model specifications; however, investigators seldom describe the impact of these choices on reported results. Our objectives are to report illness risk from swimming at a marine beach affected by nonpoint sources of urban runoff, measure associations between fecal indicator bacteria levels and subsequent illness among swimmers, and investigate the sensitivity of results to a range of exposure and outcome definitions.
In 2009, we enrolled 5674 people in a prospective cohort at Malibu Beach, a coastal marine beach in California, and measured daily health symptoms 10-19 days later. Concurrent water quality samples were analyzed for indicator bacteria using culture and molecular methods. We compared illness risk between nonswimmers and swimmers, and among swimmers exposed to various levels of fecal indicator bacteria.
Diarrhea was more common among swimmers than nonswimmers (adjusted odds ratio = 1.88 [95% confidence interval = 1.09-3.24]) within 3 days of the beach visit. Water quality was generally good (fecal indicator bacteria levels exceeded water quality guidelines for only 7% of study samples). Fecal indicator bacteria levels were not consistently associated with swimmer illness. Sensitivity analyses demonstrated that overall inference was not substantially affected by the choice of exposure and outcome definitions.
This study suggests that the 3 days following a beach visit may be the most relevant period for health outcome measurement in recreational water studies. Under the water quality conditions observed in this study, fecal indicator bacteria levels were not associated with swimmer illness.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In collaboration with a local non-profit organization, this study evaluated the expansion of a program that promoted and installed Mesita Azul, an ultraviolet-disinfection system designed to treat household drinking water in rural Mexico. We conducted a 15-month, cluster-randomized stepped wedge trial by randomizing the order in which 24 communities (444 households) received the intervention. We measured primary outcomes (water contamination and diarrhea) during seven household visits. The intervention increased the percentage of households with access to treated and safely stored drinking water (23-62%), and reduced the percentage of households with Escherichia coli contaminated drinking water (risk difference (RD): -19% [95% CI: -27%, -14%]). No significant reduction in diarrhea was observed (RD: -0.1% [95% CI: -1.1%, 0.9%]). We conclude that household water quality improvements measured in this study justify future promotion of the Mesita Azul, and that future studies to measure its health impact would be valuable if conducted in populations with higher diarrhea prevalence.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 06/2013; · 2.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this large-scale longitudinal study conducted in rural Southern India, we compared a presence/absence hydrogen sulfide (H2S) test with quantitative assays for total coliforms and Escherichia coli as measures of water quality, health risk, and water supply vulnerability to microbial contamination. None of the three indicators showed a significant association with child diarrhea. The presence of H2S in a water sample was associated with higher levels of total coliform species that may have included E. coli but that were not restricted to E. coli. In addition, we observed a strong relationship between the percent positive H2S test results and total coliform levels among water source samples (R(2) = 0.87). The consistent relationships between H2S and total coliform levels indicate that presence/absence of H2S tests provide a cost-effective option for assessing both the vulnerability of water supplies to microbial contamination and the results of water quality management and risk mitigation efforts.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 05/2013; · 2.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) is a constellation of symptoms that includes fever and altered mental status. Most cases are attributed to viral encephalitis (VE), occurring either in outbreaks or sporadically. We conducted hospital-based surveillance for sporadic adult-AES in rural Central India in order to describe its incidence, spatial and temporal distribution, clinical profile, etiology and predictors of mortality. METHODS: All consecutive hospital admissions during the study period were screened to identify adult-AES cases and were followed until 30-days of hospitalization. We estimated incidence by administrative sub-division of residence and described the temporal distribution of cases. We performed viral diagnostic studies on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples to determine the etiology of AES. The diagnostic tests included RT-PCR (for enteroviruses, HSV 1 and 2), conventional PCR (for flaviviruses), CSF IgM capture ELISA (for Japanese encephalitis virus, dengue, West Nile virus, Varicella zoster virus, measles, and mumps). We compared demographic and clinical variables across etiologic subtypes and estimated predictors of 30-day mortality. RESULTS: A total of 183 AES cases were identified between January and October 2007, representing 2.38% of all admissions. The incidence of adult AES in the administrative subdivisions closest to the hospital was 16 per 100,000. Of the 183 cases, a non-viral etiology was confirmed in 31 (16.9%) and the remaining 152 were considered as VE suspects. Of the VE suspects, we could confirm a viral etiology in 31 cases: 17 (11.2%) enterovirus; 8 (5.2%) flavivirus; 3 (1.9%) Varicella zoster; 1 (0.6%) herpesvirus; and 2 (1.3%) mixed etiology); the etiology remained unknown in remaining 121 (79.6%) cases. 53 (36%) of the AES patients died; the case fatality proportion was similar in patients with a confirmed and unknown viral etiology (45.1 and 33.6% respectively). A requirement for assisted ventilation significantly increased mortality (HR 2.14 (95% CI 1.0-4.77)), while a high Glasgow coma score (HR 0.76 (95% CI 0.69-0.83)), and longer duration of hospitalization (HR 0.88 (95% CI 0.83-0.94)) were protective. CONCLUSION: This study is the first description of the etiology of adult-AES in India, and provides a framework for future surveillance programs in India.
Clinical neurology and neurosurgery 05/2013; · 1.30 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We assessed the relationship of fecal environmental contamination and environmental enteropathy. We compared markers of environmental enteropathy, parasite burden, and growth in 119 Bangladeshi children (≤ 48 months of age) across rural Bangladesh living in different levels of household environmental cleanliness defined by objective indicators of water quality and sanitary and hand-washing infrastructure. Adjusted for potential confounding characteristics, children from clean households had 0.54 SDs (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.06, 1.01) higher height-for-age z scores (HAZs), 0.32 SDs (95% CI = -0.72, 0.08) lower lactulose:mannitol (L:M) ratios in urine, and 0.23 SDs (95% CI = -0.63, 0.17) lower immunoglobulin G endotoxin core antibody (IgG EndoCAb) titers than children from contaminated households. After adjusting for age and sex, a 1-unit increase in the ln L:M was associated with a 0.36 SDs decrease in HAZ (95% CI = -0.64, -0.07). These results are consistent with the hypothesis that environmental contamination causes growth faltering mediated through environmental enteropathy.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 04/2013; · 2.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many community-based studies of acute child illness rely on cases reported by caregivers. In prior investigations, researchers noted a reporting bias when longer illness recall periods were used. The use of recall periods longer than 2-3 days has been discouraged to minimize this reporting bias. In the present study, we sought to determine the optimal recall period for illness measurement when accounting for both bias and variance. Using data from 12,191 children less than 24 months of age collected in 2008-2009 from Himachal Pradesh in India, Madhya Pradesh in India, Indonesia, Peru, and Senegal, we calculated bias, variance, and mean squared error for estimates of the prevalence ratio between groups defined by anemia, stunting, and underweight status to identify optimal recall periods for caregiver-reported diarrhea, cough, and fever. There was little bias in the prevalence ratio when a 7-day recall period was used (<10% in 35 of 45 scenarios), and the mean squared error was usually minimized with recall periods of 6 or more days. Shortening the recall period from 7 days to 2 days required sample-size increases of 52%-92% for diarrhea, 47%-61% for cough, and 102%-206% for fever. In contrast to the current practice of using 2-day recall periods, this work suggests that studies should measure caregiver-reported illness with a 7-day recall period.
American journal of epidemiology 01/2013; · 5.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Enteric infections are common during the first years of life in low-income countries and contribute to growth faltering with long-term impairment of health and development. Water quality, sanitation, handwashing and nutritional interventions can independently reduce enteric infections and growth faltering. There is little evidence that directly compares the effects of these individual and combined interventions on diarrhoea and growth when delivered to infants and young children. The objective of the WASH Benefits study is to help fill this knowledge gap.
WASH Benefits includes two cluster-randomised trials to assess improvements in water quality, sanitation, handwashing and child nutrition-alone and in combination-to rural households with pregnant women in Kenya and Bangladesh. Geographically matched clusters (groups of household compounds in Bangladesh and villages in Kenya) will be randomised to one of six intervention arms or control. Intervention arms include water quality, sanitation, handwashing, nutrition, combined water+sanitation+handwashing (WSH) and WSH+nutrition. The studies will enrol newborn children (N=5760 in Bangladesh and N=8000 in Kenya) and measure outcomes at 12 and 24 months after intervention delivery. Primary outcomes include child length-for-age Z-scores and caregiver-reported diarrhoea. Secondary outcomes include stunting prevalence, markers of environmental enteropathy and child development scores (verbal, motor and personal/social). We will estimate unadjusted and adjusted intention-to-treat effects using semiparametric estimators and permutation tests.
Study protocols have been reviewed and approved by human subjects review boards at the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and Innovations for Poverty Action. Independent data safety monitoring boards in each country oversee the trials. This study is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of California, Berkeley.
Trial registration identifiers (http://www.clinicaltrials.gov): NCT01590095 (Bangladesh), NCT01704105 (Kenya).
BMJ Open 01/2013; 3(8):e003476. · 1.58 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Traditional fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) measurement is too slow (>18 h) for timely swimmer warnings.
Assess relationship of rapid indicator methods (qPCR) to illness at a marine beach impacted by urban runoff.
We measured baseline and two-week health in 9525 individuals visiting Doheny Beach 2007-08. Illness rates were compared (swimmers vs. non-swimmers). FIB measured by traditional (Enterococcus spp. by EPA Method 1600 or Enterolert™, fecal coliforms, total coliforms) and three rapid qPCR assays for Enterococcus spp. (Taqman, Scorpion-1, Scorpion-2) were compared to health. Primary bacterial source was a creek flowing untreated into ocean; the creek did not reach the ocean when a sand berm formed. This provided a natural experiment for examining FIB-health relationships under varying conditions.
We observed significant increases in diarrhea (OR 1.90, 95% CI 1.29-2.80 for swallowing water) and other outcomes in swimmers compared to non-swimmers. Exposure (body immersion, head immersion, swallowed water) was associated with increasing risk of gastrointestinal illness (GI). Daily GI incidence patterns were different: swimmers (2-day peak) and non-swimmers (no peak). With berm-open, we observed associations between GI and traditional and rapid methods for Enterococcus; fewer associations occurred when berm status was not considered.
We found increased risk of GI at this urban runoff beach. When FIB source flowed freely (berm-open), several traditional and rapid indicators were related to illness. When FIB source was weak (berm-closed) fewer illness associations were seen. These different relationships under different conditions at a single beach demonstrate the difficulties using these indicators to predict health risk.
Water Research 02/2012; 46(7):2176-86. · 4.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Field studies often use caregiver-reported diarrhoea and related symptoms to measure child morbidity. There are various vernacular terms to define diarrhoea that vary across the local cultural contexts. The relationship between vernacular definitions of diarrhoea and symptoms-based definitions is not well-documented. This paper describes the association of the vernacular Quechua term k'echalera with the symptoms-based standard definition of diarrhoea in rural Bolivian settings. During a cluster randomized trial in rural Bolivia, both signs and symptoms of diarrhoea and reports of k'echalera were collected for children aged less than five years. Reported k'echalera were found to be associated with important changes in stool frequency, consistency, and presence of blood and mucus. Reported k'echalera were highly related to three of four recorded categories of watery stool. The intermediate (milk-rice) stool consistency, which fits into the definition of watery stool, was not strongly related to k'echalera. Mucus in the stool was also associated with k'echalera; however, its presence in k'echalera-free days accounted for at least 50% of the possible false negatives. The sensitivity and specificity of the term k'echalera were estimated by Bayesian methods, allowing for both symptoms of diarrhoea and reports of k'echalera to be subject to diagnosis error. An average specificity of at least 97% and the sensitivity of at least 50% were obtained. The findings suggest that the use of k'echalera would identify fewer cases of diarrhoea than a symptom-based definition in rural Bolivia.
Journal of Health Population and Nutrition 12/2011; 29(6):552-9. · 1.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although localized colon cancer is often successfully treated with surgery, advanced disease requires aggressive systemic therapy that has lower effectiveness. Approximately 30% to 75% of patients with colon cancer use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), but there is limited formal evidence of survival efficacy. In a consecutive case series with 10-year follow-up of all colon cancer patients (n = 193) presenting at a San Francisco Bay-Area center for Chinese medicine (Pine Street Clinic, San Anselmo, CA), the authors compared survival in patients choosing short-term treatment lasting the duration of chemotherapy/radiotherapy with those continuing long-term. To put these data into the context of treatment responses seen in conventional medical practice, they also compared survival with Pan-Asian medicine + vitamins (PAM+V) with that of concurrent external controls from Kaiser Permanente Northern California and California Cancer Registries. Kaplan-Meier, traditional Cox regression, and more modern methods were used for causal inference-namely, propensity score and marginal structural models (MSMs), which have not been used before in studies of cancer survival and Chinese herbal medicine. PAM+V combined with conventional therapy, compared with conventional therapy alone, reduced the risk of death in stage I by 95%, stage II by 64%, stage III by 29%, and stage IV by 75%. There was no significant difference between short-term and long-term PAM+V. Combining PAM+V with conventional therapy improved survival, compared with conventional therapy alone, suggesting that prospective trials combining PAM+V with conventional therapy are justified.
Integrative Cancer Therapies 09/2011; 10(3):240-59. · 2.35 Impact Factor