USC Scientists Find That Multi-Vitamin Use And Hormone Replacement Therapy MayLower Levels Of Homocysteine

November 11, 1998

DALLAS, Nov. 9, 1998 -- University of Southern California scientists Howard N. Hodis, M.D., Wendy J. Mack, Ph.D., and their colleagues have found intriguing evidence that both regular multi-vitamin use or long-term hormone replacement therapy may reduce cardiovascular damage caused by homocysteine, a mysterious amino acid found in the blood that many believe will emerge as "the cholesterol of the next century."

Hodis, Director of the USC Atherosclerosis Research Unit, and Mack will present these findings Nov. 10 and 11 to colleagues at the American Heart Association's 71st Annual Scientific Conference in Dallas.

Recent research has linked high levels of homocysteine to atherosclerosis, the disease process behind cardiovascular disease - the nation's No. 1 killer. Both reports point to exciting possibilities in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis, a build up of fatty tissue in the arteries that results in heart attacks and strokes.

Hodis and his colleagues have been tracking the emergence of homocysteine as a cardiovascular health threat for years. The studies presented at the AHA meeting came out of his ongoing Vitamin E Atherosclerosis Prevention Study (VEAPS), which tracks the thickening of arterial walls (subclinical atherosclerosis) in 353 men and women ages 45 and older. The trial is primarily intended to track the effectiveness of Vitamin E in preventing atherosclerosis.

According to one abstract Hodis presented last week, 190 regular multi-vitamin users in his study had significantly lower homocysteine levels in their blood and their arteries showed less arterial wall thickening than the remaining 161 participants.

In a second abstract, Hodis outlined an intriguing connection between long-term hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and lower homocysteine levels. According to his research, homocysteine levels are lower in women than in men, and, most significantly, levels are lower still in women who had been taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for more than seven years.

"These data indicate that total plasma (blood) homocysteine levels are lower in women than in men and that HRT, especially long term HRT use, may play an important role in lowering homocysteine levels," Hodis says.

If the research team's early findings can be confirmed in larger, randomized trials, it brings the intriguing possibility of a relatively simple way to reduce a serious health threat. Using inexpensive multi - vitamins'or more likely a regular intake of folic acids and B-complex vitamins - could reduce atherosclerosis through a lowering of homocysteine levels.

"That's a billion-dollar proposition," Hodis says.
Dr. Hodis will present his team's research on Hormone Replacement Therapy and Homocysteine at the 71st American Heart Association Meeting in Dallas, Texas
8:30 a.m., Tuesday, November 10, 1998
Room A409/410, Dallas Convention Center

Dr. Hodis will present his team's research on Multi-Vitamin Intake, Homocysteine and Atherosclerosis at the 71st American Heart Association Meeting in Dallas, Texas
10:45 a.m., Wednesday, November 11, 1998
Room A409/410, Dallas Convention Center

Homocysteine and HRT: 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, November 10, 1998
Homocysteine and Multi-vitamins: 10:45 a.m., Tuesday, November 11, 1998

University of Southern California

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