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Raw fruits and veggies may offset genetic risk for heart disease: Study

June 24, 2017

Dr. Beth Abramson, a cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto who was not involved in the research, said people with a close family relative who experienced early heart disease, such as a parent or sibling, have double the risk of having a heart attack or other cardiovascular event as those in the general population. ???What this study seems to imply is that you shouldn't throw in the towel if you have a family history or are at risk for heart disease because healthy living with a healthy diet, in addition to other lifestyle changes such as exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight, can take away from the risk that genes give you,??? she said.

???We know that despite public health recommendations to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day, only a minority of people take the advice seriously,??? said Anand. ???Genetic information may be a motivation to help people take the public health recommendation seriously.???

But she added that this research doesn't mean that people should go out and get genetically screened for the presence of 9p21 variants. Screening is costly and not routinely done. ???This points the way toward the future and where we're going in terms of understanding the genetics of heart disease,??? said Dr. William O'Neill, cardiology professor and executive dean of clinical affairs at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. ???Maybe in the next few years, we may be able to do specific gene scans on individual patients and if we find the patients who have genetic high risk, we really want to concentrate on modifying risk by targeting smoking, cholesterol and diet.???

???We often think of genetic factors as being un-modifiable factors,??? said Anand. ???But lifestyle factors can actually change the genes.??? Dr. Ron Do, who was part of the study while at McGill University added, ???Future research is necessary to understand the mechanism of this interaction, which will shed light on the underlying metabolic processes that the 9p21 gene is involved in.???