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New study links vitamin E to lower incident of heart disease in women (Released: 4/17/96)

by David Pesci, Office of University Communications.

Women whose diets include foods rich in vitamin E have a better chance of avoiding heart disease than those who don't.

That is the conclusion of a study by Carol Lammi-Keefe, a professor of nutritional science at the University of Connecticut. Data collected by Lammi-Keefe's study indicate that vitamin E, an antioxidant inherent in wheat germ and many vegetables, may provide a protective role against the development of coronary heart disease.

The study compared 76 women over 65 years of age who had a variety of similar characteristics. However, half of these women selected had been diagnosed with coronary heart disease while the other half had not. The women who did not develop coronary heart disease had higher levels a of vitamin E in their blood, which presumably reflected diets high in Vitamin E.

The study subjects were women who have been taking part in the Framingham Heart Study, begun in 1948 to identify risk factors of heart disease of two-thirds of the 30-59-years-olds in Framingham, Mass. The subjects and many of their descendants have been re-examined every two years since the study's inception.

"My graduate student, Silke Vogel, and I were interested in antioxidants and their relationship to coronary heart disease, " Lammi-Keefe says. "The population associated with the Framingham Heart Study is the world's largest and best characterized with regards to coronary heart disease and we were very pleased to be able to get access to the samples and data."

Lammi-Keefe will present her findings in May at the Second European Congress on Nutrition and Health in the Elderly in Elsinore, Denmark. The study was partially funded by the Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station.

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