University of Minnesota

Osaka Medical Center Study

Study Category: The Cohort Studies (1947-1972)
Year Begun: 1956
Location: Osaka, Japan
Principal Investigator: Komachi, Yoshio

Osaka Medical Center for Health Science and Promotion (Former Osaka Medical Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases, Department of Preventive Cardiology)

In 1956, Teishiro Seki, professor of public health from the Osaka University Faculty of Medicine, founded a cancer registry and cancer and cardiovascular disease medical screening department at the Osaka Medical Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases. In 1963, Yoshio Komachi established a mass screening division within the Osaka Medical Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases and initiated mass screening of people from Yao, located on the outskirts of Osaka. Professor Komachi then met Saburo Kojima at a public health conference held in Akita and started collaborations to conduct screening among the people of Igawa and Honjo. Kojima later become director of Akita Prefectural Institute of Public Health. Next, Komachi started cardiovascular research at a rural area in Kochi Prefecture in Shikoku Island.

Komachi conducted a cross-sectional study comparing the occurrence of cardiovascular disease among the people of Akita, people living in the outskirts of Osaka, and people living in Osaka’s business district. He reported that not only was the cerebrovascular disease rate higher in Akita, but so was blood pressure and salt intake. The people of Akita, however, had lower fat intake and blood cholesterol levels.

The era in which Komachi did his research represented the dawn of major epidemiological studies initiated in Japan, along with the Hisayama Study and the Seven Countries Study. The Osaka-based research was unique in rural-urban comparisons of cerebrovascular disease prevalence. The framework developed during the cross-sectional study in Akita, Yao and Osaka city made possible the easy transition into a cohort study, the rewards of which are evident now in research groups including Suketami Tominaga, Hideki Ozawa, Minoru Iida, Takashi Shimamoto, and Masamitsu Konishi.

At the beginning, the screenings were done in vans or among regional medical practices, but in 1976, a central research facility was created that allowed systematic and standardized screenings. Yoshio Komachi and Takashi Shimamoto transferred to the Institute of Community Medicine at the University of Tsukuba in 1980 and continued collaborative research with the Osaka group then headed by Minoru Iida. They set up a new field study in Kyowa near Tsukuba University in Ibaraki Prefecture in which they developed combined strategies of primary and secondary prevention for cardiovascular diseases. The cohort study later passed to Takashi Shimamoto, Hiroyasu Iso, Shinichi Sato, Akihiko Kitamura and colleagues.

The Osaka Medical Center for Health Science and Promotion was established as a cardiovascular research institute in 2001 and has become independent of the Osaka Medical Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases. It has conducted detailed and continuous cardiovascular risk surveys and systematic surveillance in Akita, Ibaraki, Osaka and Kochi in collaboration with Tsukuba University and Osaka University. (H.Ueshima)

Investigators participating over the duration of the study:

Osaka Medical Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases, Department of Mass Examination (1959-2000)

Yoshio Komachi, Hideki Ozawa, Minoru Iida, Suketami Tominaga, Takashi Shimamoto, Hiroshi Takahashi, Masamitsu Konishi, Hirotsugu Ueshima, Masato Tanigaki, Noriyuki Nakanishi, Atsushi Terao, Syunroku Baba, Mitsunori Doi, Katsuhiko Tsujioka, Masatake Fukunami, Masahiko Akiyama, Yoshihiro Takayama, Hiroyasu Itou, Masakazu Nakamura, Hiroyasu Iso, Yoshihiko Naito, Shinichi Sato, Masahiko Kiyama, Akihiko Kitamura, Hironori Imano, Yuko Nakagawa, Tomonori Okamura

* Only medical doctors are listed.

University of Tsukuba, the Institute of Community Medicine (1980~)

Yoshio Komachi (Professor Emeritus), Takashi Shimamoto (director), Yoshihiko Naito, Shinichi Sato (chief), Akihiko Kitamura (chief), Masakazu Nakamura (chief), Takeo Okada, Hironori Imano, Masahiko Kiyama, Yuko Nakagawa, Masayuki Yao, Tetsuya Ohira, Kenji Maeda, Yoshinori Ishikawa

 * Only medical doctors are listed.

 Osaka University, Department of Social and Environmental Medicine (2005~)

 Hiroyasu Iso (Professor), Toshio Takatorige (Assistant professor), Hiroyuki Noda (assistant), Ai Ikeda, Tetsuya Ohira (assistant), Shinichi Sato (Part-time Lecturer), Akihiko Kitamura (Part-time Lecturer) (H. Ueshima)


[1]Komachi Y, et al: Geographic and occupational comparisons of risk factors in cardiovascular diseases in Japan. Jpn Circ J 35:189-207, 1971

[2]Shimamoto T, et al: Trends for coronary heart disease and stroke and their risk factors in Japan. Circulation 79:503-15, 1989

[3]Iso H, et al.: Serum total homocysteine concentrations and risk of stroke and its subtypes in Japanese. Circulation 109:2766-72, 2004

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