Genetic factors and altered food habits have transformed a population that was previously immune to heart disease into a vulnerable group.Too much of omega 3 fatty acids in diet along with genetic variations may act as important determinants of heart disease, reveals a study in the Inuit population.
The Inuits are people living in the arctic regions of Greenland, the United States, Canada and Russia. Once almost immune to heart disease due to their high fish intake, changes in lifestyle towards modernization have made this population prone to heart disease in the recent years. In addition, even people maintaining a traditional diet of fish and marine animals, which is rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) that are good for the heart, are suffering more commonly from heart disease. Therefore, besides diet, it is also likely that variations in genes involved in fat metabolism makes some of these individuals more susceptible to heart disease.
AdvertisementA study evaluated whether variations in genes involved in lipid metabolism, and the total n-3 PUFA intake affected the concentration of cholesterol and other lipids in the blood, and therefore influenced the risk of heart disease in this population. The n-3 PUFA intake was estimated by measuring the percentage of total n-3 PUFA in the red blood cells. A food frequency questionnaire was also administered to study the food intake in the previous year.
The researchers found a correlation between a higher intake of n-3 PUFA and lower levels of triglycerides, and higher concentrations of total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol. The HDL-cholesterol is considered good for the heart, whereas the others are linked to heart disease.
The researchers also found that variations in CETP, AGT, APOA5, APOA4 and APOC3 genes are associated with heart disease. This could possibly explain the reason why Inuits on the same diet are at a variable risk for developing heart disease. It is also possible that genetic variations and diet are together interlinked to increase the risk of heart disease.
The researchers thus concluded that n-3 PUFA intake and genetic variations are associated with increasing the risk for heart disease.
Iwona Rudkowska et al. Omega-3 fatty acids, polymorphisms and lipid related cardiovascular disease risk factors in the Inuit population. Nutrition & Metabolism 2013, 10:26 doi:10.1186/1743-7075-10-26.