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New Study Helps Women Fight Heart Disease

by Michele on January 16, 2012

Women no longer have the luxury of viewing their hearts through the rose-colored glasses of  romantic gifts and Valentines Day.  Heart disease is a reality for many of us.  This guest post by Alan Parker, though, provides a glimmer of hope and one more reason to eat your veggies!

When women think about the different health risks they may encounter, heart disease may not be the first that comes to mind. However women are actually more likely than men to suffer from heart attacks and from complications after a heart attack. Doctors tend to have a harder time getting risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol under control. From Harvard’s focus on heart health to the devotion to heart technology of researcher Winston Wong’s Biotechnology Center, thousands of research hours are going into treating heart conditions. A majority of these heart conditions are assumed to be caused by genetics, but a growing field of study, called epigenetics, is showing that women may have much more control over their heart health than they once thought.

The study was conducted in a relatively unknown field, called epigenetics. In short, the field works to show that human genes, once thought to be set in stone, can actually be switched on and off depending on environmental factors. Scientists focused on a gene variant that some people carry, called 9p21, that is shown to be strongly associated with cardiovascular disease.

Published by the Public Library of Science Medicine Journal, about 27,000 participants with this 9p21 gene variant were looked at to see if diet played a part in minimizing the risk of heart disease. After participants followed a diet rich in raw fruits and veggies they were able to turn off the gene, eliminating the risk associated with that variant. Dr. James Engert, one of the doctors partaking in the study, stressed that the diet is not going to overcome all variants and that more research needs to be done to see if more risk factors can be eliminated. Still, this finding greatly empowers those who have a history of heart disease to start taking control of their lives, by eating better and living healthier.

The idea that choosing a healthy lifestyle, including proper diet and exercise, can help ensure we all live heart healthy lives is really nothing new. But as this new study shows, those who thought they were doomed to be ailed by the same sicknesses as their ancestors may finally have the encouragement to take hold of their own health!

Written by Alan Parker, an active blogger out of New York City whose writing covers healthy living, the environment, and the great outdoors.  You can follow him on Twitter @AGreenParker.

Photo by  Gabriela Camerotti

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