Newswise — The articles below will be published online September 23, 2010, at 4 p.m. (ET) by the American Journal of Public Health under “First Look” at, and they are currently scheduled to appear in the November 2010 print issue of the Journal. “First Look” articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. The American Journal of Public Health is published by the American Public Health Association,, and is available at

(1) Texting and cell phone use leads to big rise in distracted driving fatalities

Texting and cell phone use has led to a significant rise in fatalities due to distracted driving, says a new study from the American Journal of Public Health.

Researchers studied trends in distracted driving fatalities and their relation to cell phone use and texting volume. They did so through the Fatality Analysis Reporting System which records data on all road fatalities that occurred on public roads in the United States from 1999 to 2008. After a reported drop from 1999 to 2005, fatalities from distracted driving increased 28 percent after 2005, rising from 4,572 fatalities to 5,870 in 2008. The study reports that crashes increasingly involved male drivers and collisions with roadside obstructions in urban areas. Researchers estimated that increasing texting volumes resulted in more than 16,000 additional road fatalities from 2001 to 2007.

“Our results suggested that recent and rapid increases in texting volumes have resulted in thousands of additional road fatalities in the United States. Legislation enacting texting bans should be paired with effective enforcement to deter drivers from the use of handheld devices while driving. Requiring standard new-car options such as Bluetooth or other automobile technologies that inhibit handheld cell phone use should also be considered,” the study’s authors advocate.

[From: “Trends in Fatalities from Distracted Driving in the United States, 1999 to 2008.” ].

(2) Routine activity may help reduce risk of invasive breast cancer

New evidence found that routine activity during the day at work or home may be important for breast cancer prevention.

Researchers examined how routine activity during the day at work or home, years walking and biking to work, hours per day spent watching television or videos, and hours per day spent sitting were related to breast cancer risk among 97,039 postmenopausal women aged 50-71 years in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. They found that independent of recreational moderate-vigorous physical activity level, increases in routine activity during the day at work or home, and possibly active commuting, may be protective against invasive breast cancer.

Researchers stated, “Given that many postmenopausal women may not be capable of meeting U.S. physical activity guidelines for cancer prevention through recreational moderate-vigorous physical activity alone, domains outside of recreation time may be attractive targets for increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behavior.”

[From: “Beyond Recreational Physical Activity: Examining Occupational and Household Activity, Transportation Activity, and Sedentary Behavior in Relation to Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Risk.” ].

(3) Income disparities in obesity prevalence found among California adolescents

A new study from the American Journal of Public Health found that obesity prevalence significantly increased among lower-income California adolescents between 2001 and 2007 in California. Although the overall disparity in obesity by family income doubled during this time period, trends were more consistent among male adolescents than among female adolescents.

Using data from 17,535 adolescents who responded to the California Health Interview Survey, researchers examined disparities in obesity prevalence by family income and gender. They found that adolescents from low-income families have a higher prevalence of obesity than those from higher-income families. Moreover, while there were no statistically significant differences in obesity than those from higher-income adolescents between 2001 and 2007, obesity rates increased significantly among low-income adolescents, particularly males.

“The fact that we observed significant increases in disparities in obesity rates between adolescents from poor families and adolescents from higher-income families in California over a relatively short period of time (2001-2007) is somewhat alarming,” the study’s authors noted, adding that “obesity prevention efforts may need to be adapted to better serve the needs of low-income adolescents.”

[From: “Income Disparities in Obesity Trends among California Adolescents.” ].

The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly Journal of the American Public Health Association (APHA), the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. APHA is a leading publisher of books and periodicals promoting sound scientific standards, action programs and public policy to enhance health. More information is available at

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