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Chinese man smoking

Several major lifestyle factors (e.g. tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, physical activity, sleep, and diet) contribute importantly to human health. Although their associations with several major diseases (e.g. heart disease, stroke, and cancers) are well established, uncertainty remains about cause-effect nature of the associations for certain factors (e.g. dietary factors), about their roles in aetiology of many other diseases, and about the likely biological mechanisms underpinning their associations. Moreover, there is greater evidence gap in China where the disease rates and lifestyle patterns differ from those in the Western populations.

Building on our previous research in CKB, we will continue to study the relevance of major lifestyle factors for risks of a broad range of diseases (e.g. heart failure, chronic kidney disease, auto-immune diseases, and multi-morbidity) and to explore novel biological mechanisms linking certain lifestyle factors with specific diseases.

Our current and planned work include the following objectives:

  • to monitor, using the periodic resurvey data, the changing patterns of lifestyle behaviours and associated factors over time;
  • to investigate the associations of different lifestyle factors, both independently and jointly, with risks of a wide range of diseases, using PheWAS approach;
  • to explore, utilising subclinical markers (e.g. carotid artery plaque) and omics biomarker data, potential biological mechanisms linking lifestyle factors with specific diseases;
  • to determine the likely cause-effect associations of certain lifestyle factors (e.g. alcohol drinking) with risks of specific diseases and traits, using Mendelian randomisation approach;
  • to explore the potential interactions of lifestyle behaviours with other risk factors (e.g. air pollution, ambient temperature) on risks of major diseases.

In collaboration with China’s Centre for Disease Control (CDC) we will use nationally representative exposure and mortality data to assess the disease burden attributed to different lifestyle factors in Chinese adults. We will also utilise data from other biobanks (e.g. UK Biobank) to compare and contrast the associations between China and other populations.