Public celebration of largest and longest study into high mortality rates in the West of Scotland

Issued: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 00:00:00 GMT

Scotland's largest and longest health study ヨ MIDSPAN ヨ will celebrate over 30 years of progress this month by thanking the local people who have made it possible.

'Celebrating 30 years of the MIDSPAN studies' will take place on Saturday 26 November. The day will be led by Professor Graham Watt from Community Based Sciences at the University, and is in recognition of the participation of over 23,000 local people in the MIDSPAN studies. Renfrewshire Council will open Paisley Town Hall for the public to hear what the study has revealed about health and disease in the West of Scotland and will be thanked for making the studies possible.

Professor Graham Watt, Chair of the MIDSPAN steering committee, said:

"So many people have taken part in the MIDSPAN studies over the years that it is impossible to contact everyone, but we would like to make it known that there is an open invitation to anyone who wishes to attend this public meeting.

"MIDSPAN confirms the importance of smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol as causes of coronary heart disease, but these factors only partly explained the high mortality rates in the west of Scotland. Another important explanation was lung function, as measured by the ability to blow hard into a tube (like blowing out candles on a cake). Reduced ability to do that was the most powerful predictor of premature mortality.

"A key finding of MIDSPAN is the long shadow cast by passive smoking. Increased cough, chest pain, lung cancer and heart disease deaths were experienced by passive smokers. The non-smoking offspring of smokers were found to have reduced lung function. The studies also emphasise the importance of a good childhood environment in determining future adult health, for example by allowing healthy growth, as manifest by adult height and lung capacity."

MIDSPAN is the name used for the large occupational and general population health surveys founded in the 1960s and 1970s by Prof Victor Hawthorne - a Scot who began his career in Glasgow and is now Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The MIDSPAN studies are centred at the University of Glasgow.

This public event follows a professional meeting of Scotland's leading health experts who are being brought together by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health on Friday 25 November to act on the findings of 30 years of the MIDSPAN studies.

Renfrewshire Council's Provost Ronnie Burns, said:

'I am delighted to be opening up the meeting to the people of Renfrewshire. It is encouraging to see that our local community has played a crucial part in this valuable and unique 30-year medical study.

"I would urge anyone who has a family member, or even those that took part it in themselves, to come along to this informal meeting on Saturday and find out what the health professionals have discovered about 'us'.'

All are welcome to attend the public meeting on Saturday 26 November, between 9.45am and 12pm.

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Research findings from MIDSPAN revealing that people living in deprived areas or working in manual occupations are less likely to receive cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering treatment than more affluent people, were published in the British Journal of General Practice in October of this year. For more details see: University Newsdesk.