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Men with little body fat may still be at risk for heart disease and diabetes

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Men with little body fat may still be at risk for heart disease and diabetes   Being thin may not always lead to healthier cholesterol test scores. A new study from the Harvard Medical School found that a particular genetic mutation may lead to a smaller waistline but an increased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

The researchers began their study examining the genomes of 75,000 men in an effort to identify genetic factors that determined body fat percentage. They found that activation of the gene IRS1 increases the odds that a man will be thinner.

However, when the team analyzed their data more closely, they noted that individuals with higher expression of this gene also tended to have high cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Paradoxically, the gene makes men thin while increasing their risk of heart disease and diabetes.

"We've uncovered a truly fascinating genetic story and, when we found the effect of this gene, we were very intrigued by the unexpected finding," said Dr. Douglas Kiel, who led the investigation.

The findings underscore the importance of cholesterol testing, even for men who believe they are perfectly healthy.
 

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