Studying Seventh-day Adventists

Seventh-day Adventists (Adventists) have increasingly become the objects of epidemiologic studies, both because they tend to be far more homogeneous in many lifestyle choices and because they are more heterogeneous in nutritional habits than the general population. Certain lifestyle characteristics, such as heavy cigarette smoking, consumption of alcohol, and diets heavy in fats may confound or modify the effects of other factors, making it difficult to study members of the general population.

In the Adventist population, these potentially distorting characteristics are largely absent, making other factors more easily observed. Perhaps even more importantly, the wide range of dietary habits, from strict vegetarianism to a normal American diet, greatly enhances the ability of investigators. Below are links to summaries of each of the five major Adventist Health Studies conducted by researchers at Loma Linda University.

Adventist Mortality Study: 1958-1966
The first major study of Adventists, begun in 1958, has become known as the Adventist Mortality Study, a prospective study of 22,940 California Adventists. The study was conducted at the same time as the large American Cancer Society study of non-Adventists, and comparisons were made for many causes of death between the two populations.

Adventist Health Study-1 (AHS-1): 1974-1988
The second major study was designed to determine which components of the Adventist lifestyle give protection against disease. Over the course of the study, several questionnaires were mailed to 34,198 California Adventists. In the beginning, AHS-1 was primarily a cancer investigation. (See a PDF of cancer findings.) In 1981, a cardiovascular component was added.

Adventist Health Air Pollution Study (AHSMOG): 1976-Present
The AHSMOG Study is a substudy consisting of 6,338 California Adventists who were members of the parent AHS-1. It is believed this population provides a unique opportunity for also investigating the health effects of long-term exposure to ambient air pollutants with very little confounding (distortion) by active tobacco exposure. Since 1977, the cohort has been followed and monitored for newly diagnosed malignant neoplasms, coronary heart disease, and all-cause mortality.

Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2): 2002-Present
With 96,000 Adventist participants in the U.S. and Canada, AHS-2 is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies of diet and cancer in the world. It is also one of the largest dietary studies of Black/African Americans and will help answer why this group has a disproportionate amount of cancers and heart disease.

Adventist Religion & Health Study (ARHS): 2006-Present
ARHS is a substudy of AHS-2 consisting of 11,000 Adventist Americans who are members of the parent AHS-2. It aims to understand what specific aspects of religion, life stressors and other health behaviors account for better or worse health and trace some of the biopsychosocial pathways to health.