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עמוד בית
Fri, 30.09.22

Search results

April 2022
Mohammad Khatib PhD MPH, Ahmad Sheikh Muhammad MPH, Salam Hadid PhD, Izhar Ben Shlomo MD, and Malik Yousef PhD

Background: Hookah smoking is a common activity around the world and has recently become a trend among youth. Studies have indicated a relationship between hookah smoking and a high prevalence of chronic diseases, cancer, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases. In Israel, there has been a sharp increase in hookah smoking among the Arabs. Most studies have focused mainly on hookah smoking among young people.

Objectives: To examine the association between hookah smoking and socioeconomic characteristics, health status and behaviors, and knowledge in the adult Arab population and to build a prediction model using machine learning methods.

Methods: This quantitative study based is on data from the Health and Environment Survey conducted by the Galilee Society in 2015–2016. The data were collected through face-to-face interviews with 2046 adults aged 18 years and older.

Results: Using machine learning, a prediction model was built based on eight features. Of the total study population, 13.0% smoked hookah. In the 18–34 age group, 19.5% smoked. Men, people with lower level of health knowledge, heavy consumers of energy drinks and alcohol, and unemployed people were more likely to smoke hookah. Younger and more educated people were more likely to smoke hookah.

Conclusions: Hookah smoking is a widespread behavior among adult Arabs in Israel. The model generated by our study is intended to help health organizations reach people at risk for smoking hookah and to suggest different approaches to eliminate this phenomenon.

November 2018
Naim Abu Freha MD MHA, Wafi Badarna MD, Muhammad Abu Tailakh RN MPH PhD, Heba Abu Kaf MD, Alex Fich MD, Doron Schwartz MD, Arik Segal, Jabir Elkrinawi and Amir Karban MD

Background: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) prevalence is increasing among Bedouin Arabs in Israel. This population is known to have a high rate of consanguinity. NOD2/CARD15 mutations are well-studied in IBD.

Objectives: To investigate the frequency of NOD2/CARD15 mutations in IBD Bedouin patients and their relevance to disease phenotype.

Methods: The IBD-Arab cohort in southern Israel included 68 patients, of which 25 Crohn's disease (CD) patients and 25 ulcerative colitis (UC) patients consented to participate (72%). Blood samples were obtained from all participants who were genotyped for NOD2/CARD15 variants Arg702Trp, Gly908Arg, and Leu1007fsinsC.

Results: The NOD2/CARD15 mutation frequency was higher in Crohn's disease than in ulcerative colitis patients. Carrier frequency for the Gly908Arg mutation in CD and UC patients was 8/25 (32%) and 3/25 (12%), respectively (P = 0.08). Neither the Arg702Trp nor Leu1007fsinsC mutation was found in our cohort. No homozygous/compound heterozygote mutations were found. Genotype-phenotype analysis revealed that CD patients carrying the Gly908Arg mutation were younger at diagnosis, 22.8 ± 4.5 vs. 28.82 ± 9.1 years (P = 0.04). All carriers were males, compared with 41.2% in non-carriers (P = 0.005). NOD2/CARD15 mutation carriers with UC were older, 67.0 ± 24.5 years compared with 41.2 ± 12.3 years (P = 0.006). No other associations regarding disease localization or other clinical parameter were found.

Conclusions: The frequency of NOD2/CARD15 gene mutations is high in CD and UC among Bedouin Arab IBD patients and is associated with younger age at onset in CD and male gender.

August 2015
Rafael S. Carel MD DrPH, Inna Brodsky MPH and Giora Pillar MD MPH

Background: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common health problem with an estimated prevalence of 4% among men, many of whom are undiagnosed and untreated. 

Objectives: To compare demographic characteristics, health profiles, risk factors, and disease severity in Arab and Jewish men with OSA syndrome.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study we retrospectively analyzed clinical data from the medical files of men ≥ 22 years old who were referred to the Rambam Medical Center sleep clinic during the period 2001–2009 with a suspected diagnosis of OSA. OSA severity was measured using the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). Categorical variables were compared using the chi-square test. Relations between OSA severity and a set of independent risk factors were assessed by linear regression analysis.

Results: A total of 207 men were included (39 Arabs, 19%; 168 Jews, 81%). Arab participants were younger than their Jewish counterparts (45.5 ± 8.9 years vs. 49.8 ± 11.8, P = 0.04) and their body mass index (BMI) was higher (33.1 ± 5.1 vs. 30.0 ± 4.4, P = 0.001). OSA severity (AHI score) was higher among Arab men, with low, medium and high severity scores seen in 10%, 33% and 56% of Arab men vs 35%, 29% and 37% of Jewish men, respectively [T(198)=2.39, P = 0.02]. Mean blood oxygen saturation was comparable.

Conclusions: Arab men presenting for evaluation of sleep apnea harbored more severe OSA symptoms, were younger, and had higher BMI compared to Jewish men. Since OSA syndrome evolves for several years until it becomes severe, these findings suggest that Arab men seek medical assistance later than Jewish men with OSA.


June 2015
Orna Baron-Epel PHD, Waleed Shalata PHD and Melbourne F. Hovell PHD


Background: Waterpipe tobacco smoking (WTS) is common in some populations and may add increased risk for tobaccorelated diseases.

Objectives: To assess the rates of WTS and risk practices associated with WTS in three distinct populations in Israel: long-term Jewish residents (LTJR), immigrants from the former Soviet Union (fSU), and Arabs.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 899 randomly selected participants, age 30–65 years, using face-toface interviews with subjects from the three population groups in Israel. Respondents reported WTS, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and socioeconomic characteristics.

Results: Among men, WTS at least once a week was reported by 4.8% of LTJR, 3.2% of fSU immigrants and 20.3% of Arabs. Lower rates were reported among women of all groups. The younger, less educated men and the younger unmarried women had higher odds of WTS. LTJR who smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol had higher odds of WTS [odds ratio (OR) 32.6, confidence interval (CI) 9.36–113.6; OR = 3.57, CI =1.48–8.63, respectively], compared to non-smokers and non-drinkers. fSU immigrants who smoked cigarettes had higher odds of WTS (OR = 3.40, CI = 0.99–11.7) compared to non-smokers. Among Arabs, cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption were not associated with WTS.

Conclusions: Arabs are more likely than other Israeli populations to engage in WTS. This behavior may add to increased inequalities in rates of tobacco-induced diseases between Arabs and Jews in Israel. Including WTS in the policies for smoke-free public places is called for.

December 2014
Yehoshua Shapira DMD, Itay Blum DMD, Ziona Haklai MSc, Nir Shpack DMD and Yona Amitai MD MPH

Background: Orofacial clefts are the most common craniofacial congenital malformations, with significant anatomic, ethnical, racial and gender differences.

Objectives: To investigate the prevalence, distribution and characteristic features of various types of non-syndromic clefts among Israeli Jews and Arabs.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective multi-center survey in 13 major hospitals in Israel for the period 1993–2005. To obtain the true prevalence and detailed clinical characteristics, data on liveborn infants with non-syndromic clefts were obtained from the Ministry of Health's National Birth Defect Registry and completed by chart reviews in the 13 surveyed hospitals.

Results: Of 976,578 liveborn infants, 684 presented unilateral or bilateral clefts, with a prevalence of 7.00/10,000 live births; 479 were Jews and 205 were Arabs. The prevalence was higher among Arabs compared to Jews (11.12 and 6.22 per 10,000 live births in Arabs and Jews, respectively, P < 0.00001). Males had higher cleft rates than females (7.69/10,000 and 6.17/10,000 live births, respectively, P = 0.05). Males had more cleft lips with or without cleft palate, while females had more isolated cleft palates

(P < 0.001). There was left-side predominance. Newborns of younger mothers (age < 20 years) and of older mothers (age ≥ 45 years) had higher cleft rates than those with mothers in the 20–44 year bracket (P < 0.009). Children born at or above the 5th birth order had a higher cleft rate (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: The prevalence of non-syndromic clefts was 7.00/10,000 live births. The markedly higher rate in Arabs is related to the high rate of consanguinity. Both very young and old maternal age represents a higher risk of clefts in their offspring. 

July 2013
N.M. Idilbi, M. Barchana, U. Milman and R.S. Carel
 Background: A worldwide epidemic of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is in progress. This disease carries a heavy socioeconomic burden.

Objectives: To compare the incidence rate of overall and site-specific cancers among Israeli Arabs with T2DM to that of Israeli Arabs without.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study of all adult Arab members of Clalit Healthcare Services in northern Israel was conducted over a 10 year period (1999–2008).

Results: During the study period 752 and 2045 incident cases of cancer were diagnosed among 13,450 adults with diabetes and 74,484 without, respectively. The follow-up time involved 817,506 person-years. Diabetes was associated with a standard incidence ratio (SIR) of 3.27 (95%CI 1.49–5.05) and 2.87 (95%CI 1.25–4.50) for pancreatic cancer in men and women, respectively. A significantly reduced SIR (0.67, 95%CI 0.36–0.99) was observed for esophageal, stomach and intestinal cancers in men.

Conclusions: Our findings support an association between T2DM and increased risk of cancer of the pancreas in Arab men and women. A significantly reduced risk of all other cancers was observed only in Arab men. Our findings underscore the need for effective diabetes and cancer prevention and intervention programs. 

January 2013
December 2010
O. Baron-Epel, L. Keinan-Boker, R. Weinstein and T. Shohat

Background: During the last few decades much effort has been invested into lowering smoking rates due to its heavy burden on the population's health and on costs for the health care services.

Objectives: To compare trends in smoking rates between adult Arab men and Jewish men and women during 2000–2008.

Methods: Six random telephone surveys were conducted by the Israel Center for Disease Control in 2000–2008 to investigate smoking rates. The number of respondents was 24,976 Jews men and women and 2564 Arab men. The percent of respondents reporting being current smokers was calculated for each population group (Jews and Arabs) by age, gender and education, and were studied in relation to time.

Results: Among Jewish men aged 21–64 smoking declined during 2000–2008 by about 3.5%. In the 21–44 age group this decline occurred only among respondents with an academic education. Among Jewish women this decline also occurred at ages 21–64, and in the 45–64 age group this decline was due only to a decline in smoking among those with an academic education. Among Arab men aged 21–64 an increase in smoking rates of about 6.5% was observed among both educated and less educated respondents.

Conclusions: Smoking prevalence is declining in Israel among Jews, but not among Arab men. The larger decrease in smoking rates among academics will, in the future, add to the inequalities in health between the lower and higher socioeconomic status groups and between Arabs and Jews. This calls for tailored interventions among the less educated Jews and all Arab men.

September 2010
J. Zlotogora, Z. Haklai, N. Rotem, M. Georgi and L. Rubin

Background: Ultrasound examination of the fetus enables diagnosis of many major malformations during pregnancy, providing the possibility to consider interruption of the pregnancy. As a result, in many cases the incidence of malformations at birth does not represent their true incidence.

Objectives: To determine the impact of prenatal diagnosis and termination of pregnancy on the relative incidence of malformations at birth among Jews and Muslim Arabs in Israel.

Methods: Data on selected major malformations in 2000–2003 were collected from the two large central databases of the Ministry of Health and the Central Bureau of Statistics which contain information regarding births, stillbirths and terminations of pregnancies.

Results: For many malformations the total incidence was much higher than the incidence at birth. For almost all of the malformations studied, the total incidence was higher in Muslims than in Jews and the differences were further accentuated among the liveborn because of the differences in the rate of pregnancy terminations.

Conclusions: In order to detect possible influences of environmental or genetic factors on major malformations in Israel, it is critical to look at data including pregnancy terminations, stillbirths and live births.

September 2007
S. Abu-Asleh and I. Chowers

Background: Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of legal blindness in the developed world including Israel. Ethnic background is a risk factor for advanced AMD[1] in several populations, however the relative prevalence of this disease in different ethnic groups in the Middle East is unknown.

Objectives: To compare the prevalence of advanced AMD in Arabs and Jews in Israel.

Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of two independent groups of patients: the first group comprised a sequential series of Jerusalem residents who underwent photodynamic therapy for neovascular AMD (PDT[2] group), and the second group consisted of all individuals in Jerusalem who received a blind certificate due to AMD (legal blindness group). Control groups were assessed to exclude inherited ethnic associated bias in the two study groups.

Results: The PDT group included 146 patients: 142 were Jews (97.3%) and 4 were Arabs (2.7%). The legal blindness group included 340 Jerusalem residents: 326 Jews (96%) and 14 Arabs (4%). The number of Arab AMD patients in the two groups was lower than expected based on the ethnic composition of the age-matched Jerusalem population (P = 0.0002 for the PDT group, and P < 0.0001 for the legal blindness group). By contrast, the number of non-AMD Arab patients who were treated in the same clinic and the number of Arabs who received a blind certificate for diabetic retinopathy was not different from expected based on their relative number in the Jerusalem population.

Conclusions: Advanced AMD is less common in the Arab than the Jewish population of Jerusalem. Genetic and environmental factors may account for this difference. A population-based study is required to assess the overall prevalence of AMD in Jews and Arabs.

[1] AMD = age-related macular degeneration

[2] PDT = photodynamic therapy

July 2007
O.Kalter-Leibovici, A.Atamna, F.Lubin, G.Alpert, M.Gillon Keren, H.Murad A.Chetrit, D.Goffer, S.Eilat-Adar, and U.Goldbourt

Background: Arabs in Israel have high morbidity and mortality from diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Obesity is a risk factor for both conditions.

Objectives: To investigate the prevalence of obesity (body mass index > 30 kg/m2), subjects' knowledge and behaviors, and their reports on practices of health-care professionals regarding body weight among Arabs and Jews.

Methods: The study participants (n=880) were randomly sampled from the urban population of the Hadera district in Israel. Data on demographic, socioeconomic and lifestyle characteristics; reports on height, current body weight and body weight at the age of 18 years; knowledge and behavior; and health-care professionals' practices with regard to body weight were obtained by interview. Anthropometric measurements were performed subsequently.

Results: Information on BMI[1] was available on 868 participants (49% Arabs, 49% women, median age 46 years). Although the median BMI did not differ significantly between Arabs and Jews at age 18, the prevalence of current obesity was 52% in Arab women compared to 31% in Jewish women (P < 0.001), and 25% in Arab men compared to 23% in Jewish men (P = 0.6). On multivariate analysis, obesity was significantly associated with age, BMI at the age of 18 years, leisure time physical activity and cigarette smoking, but not with ethnicity. Fewer Arabs reported measuring their body weight and Arab women were less frequently advised to maintain an active lifestyle.

Conclusions: The high prevalence of obesity among Arab women may be explained by lifestyle characteristics. Prevention of obesity in Arabs should be directed at women and should start preferably before adulthood.

[1] BMI = body mass index

June 2007
R. Gepstein, Z. Arinzon, Y. Folman, S. Shabat, A. Adunsky

Background: Surgery for spinal stenosis is a frequent procedure in elderly patients. Presentation, hospital course and outcome of disease, including pain perception, may vary among patients of different ethnic origin.

Objectives: To evaluate whether differences in various medical indicators can explain differences in pain perception between two ethnic groups

Methods: We conducted a case-control study on the experience of two spinal units treating a mixed Arab and Jewish population, and compared the data on 85 Arab and 189 Jewish patients undergoing spinal lumbar surgery.

Results: Arab patients were younger (P = 0.027), less educated (P < 0.001), had a higher body mass index (P = 0.004) and included a higher proportion of diabetics (P = 0.013). Preoperative pain intensity (P = 0.023) and functional disability (P = 0.005) were more prominent, and factors associated with pre- or postoperative pain perception differed between the two ethnic groups. Despite these differences, results on follow-up were similar with respect to pain perception and level of disability.

Conclusions: A better understanding of ethnic differences is crucial for predicting surgery outcomes.


April 2007
R. Jabara, S. Namouz, J. D. Kark and C. Lotan

Background: There is little published information on the coronary risk characteristics of Palestinian women. However, there are documented lifestyle differences as well as socioeconomic inequalities between Arab and Jewish women in Israel.

Objectives: To compare the risk factor characteristics of coronary heart disease patients in Palestinian and Israeli women.

Methods: This study included 546 women (444 Jews and 102 Arabs) aged 35-74, all residents of Jerusalem, who underwent cardiac catheterization at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center between 2000 and 2003, and were confirmed to have coronary artery disease; Data on multiple risk factors were obtained from patient interviews and files.

Results: Compared with Jewish women, Arab women had a higher prevalence of diabetes, had borne more children/were younger, had a lower socioeconomic status, consumed jess alcohol and more olive oil, suffered more passive smoking and were less physically active. On the other hand, fewer Arab women had dyslipidemia, used hormone replacement therapy and had a family history of CHD.

Conclusions: Compared to Jewish women, Palestinian Arab women in Jerusalem appear to have more diabetes and exhibit lifestyle factors that generally increase the risk for CHD. Greater attention to primary prevention in this ethnic group is needed. This study suggests the need to investigate determinants of the metabolic syndrome and the possible role of passive smoking in Arab women as well as modes of intervention via health promotion and risk factor management in this population.

November 2005
O. Baron-Epel, A. Haviv, N. Garty, D. Tamir and M.S. Green
 Background: Increasing physical activity and thereby reducing a sedentary lifestyle can lower the risk of chronic diseases. Raising the population's involvement in physical activity is a major challenge for public health and healthcare services.

Objectives: To identify subpopulations with a sedentary lifestyle and low levels of adherence to physical activity recommendations.

Methods: The Israel Center for Disease Control performed two national surveys during 2002–2003, interviewing 7,307 Jewish Israelis and 1,826 Arab Israelis over age 21. Respondents were asked if they engaged in physical activity lasting at least 20 consecutive minutes, and if so how frequently: less than once a week, once or twice a week, nearly every day or every day.

Results: Arab respondents were less physically active than Jewish respondents after adjusting for gender, age, level of religiosity, marital status, education, self-reported health, smoking, body mass index, and type of survey. Multiple logistic regression analysis run separately for Jews and Arabs found a more sedentary lifestyle, in both groups, among women, the less educated, those who were married and those with poor subjective health. Among Jews, younger people, increased religiosity, smoking and high BMI[1] were associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

Conclusions: The Jewish population is in need of more targeted and specific interventions for lower adhering subpopulations, such as women, the less educated and those with other risk factors. In the Arab population a more thorough understanding of the benefits of physical activity is needed; however, it seems that a general intervention is required to decrease the prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle all round.


[1] BMI = body mass index

March 2005
M.A. Abdul-Ghani, M. Sabbah, B. Muati, N. Dakwar, H. Kashkosh, O. Minuchin, P. Vardi, I. Raz, for the Israeli Diabetes Research Group
 Background: Increased insulin resistance, which is associated with obesity, is believed to underlie the development of metabolic syndrome. It is also known to increase the risk for the development of glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes. Both conditions are recognized as causing a high rate of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Objectives: To assess the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and different glucose intolerance states in healthy, overweight Arab individuals attending a primary healthcare clinic in Israel.

Methods: We randomly recruited 95 subjects attending a primary healthcare clinic who were healthy, overweight (body mass index >27) and above the age of 40. Medical and family history was obtained and anthropometric parameters measured. Blood chemistry and oral glucose tolerance test were performed after overnight fasting.

Results: Twenty-seven percent of the subjects tested had undiagnosed type 2 diabetes according to WHO criteria, 42% had impaired fasting glucose and/or impaired glucose tolerance and only 31% had a normal OGTT[1]. Metabolic syndrome was found in 48% according to criteria of the U.S. National Cholesterol Education Program, with direct correlation of this condition with BMI[2] and insulin resistance calculated by homeostasis model assessment. Subjects with metabolic syndrome had a higher risk for abnormality in glucose metabolism, and the more metabolic syndrome components the subject had the higher was the risk for abnormal glucose metabolism. Metabolic syndrome predicted the result of OGTT with 0.67 sensitivity and 0.78 specificity. When combined with IFG[3], sensitivity was 0.83 and specificity 0.86 for predicting the OGTT result.

Conclusions: According to our initial evaluation approximately 70% of the overweight Arab population in Israel has either metabolic syndrome or abnormal glucose metabolism, indicating that they are at high risk to develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. This population is likely to benefit from an intervention program.


[1] OGTT = oral glucose tolerance test

[2] BMI = body mass index

[3] IFG = impaired fasting glucose

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