Lifestyle risks for cardiovascular disease differ between men and women

November 21, 2002

Epidemiologic studies have suggested that elevated plasma homocysteine (tHcy) concentrations are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and that several lifestyle factors influence tHcy levels. Publishing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Mennen et al. examined the effects of lifestyle on tHcy concentrations in a group of middle-aged French men and women and developed different recommendations for each gender, based on disparate findings regarding the influences of lifestyle on tHcy.

The subjects, 1139 women and 931 men, averaging 47 and 51 years old respectively, were participants in a long-term study of the effect of a daily antioxidant supplement on the incidence of cancer and CVD. Middle and Southern Europeans have different lifestyle habits than people in Anglo-Saxon countries, and the occurrence of CVD is lower in Southern Europe. All of the men and women randomly completed 24-hour dietary recall records, for a total of 6 records per year per subject. In concurrence with other studies of this kind, the researchers found that men had higher tHcy levels than women overall. Coffee and alcohol consumption appeared to have a significant effect on tHcy concentrations in women. Women who were at the highest level of coffee consumption had 15% higher tHcy concentrations than women at the lowest level, and the tHcy levels of women who consumed higher amounts of alcohol were 13% higher than those of light drinkers. For men, caloric intake, physical activity levels, dietary fiber and folate intake had significant influences on tHcy. Men with the lowest concentration of serum folate, which is a nutrient known to mediate tHcy levels, had 21% higher tHcy concentrations than those with high serum folate.

The authors suggest that modifiable lifestyle factors may produce significant CVD risk factor reduction. Both sexes can improve their plasma tHcy concentrations and reduce CVD risk by taking a daily antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplement.
-end-
Mennen, Louise I et al. Homocysteine, cardiovascular disease risk factors, and habitual diet in the French Supplementation with Antioxidant Vitamins and Minerals Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2002; 76:1279-89.

This media release is provided by The American Society for Clinical Nutrition to provide current information on nutrition-related research. This information should not be construed as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, consult your doctor. To see the complete text of this article, please go to:

http://www.faseb.org/ajcn/Dec2002/13157.Mennen.PDF

For more information, please contact: s_mennen@vcham.cnam.fr.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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