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Environmental stress probed in cardiovascular disease, diabetes
Date:9/5/2007

How environmental stress contributes to cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes is under study at the Medical College of Georgia.

The study, which follows 523 pairs of twins, is funded by a $1.7 million continuation grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes and their co-morbidity pose an important health challenge to the United States, says Dr. Frank Treiber, vice president for research and principal investigator on the study. What were looking at are environmental issues and the role they play in causing these diseases. Its often the combination of genetic and environmental risk factors that is driving the development of these diseases.

Researchers have long thought that environmental stress factors things like family dysfunction, low socioeconomic status and discrimination play an important role in cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, but little is known about physiological factors that link stress to the diseases development.

How those factors are related to physiological changes that then cause the development of subclinical disease is unknown at this point, Dr. Treiber says. A twin study allows you to tease out the genetic contributions by comparing identical and fraternal twins.

MCG researchers have been studying the twin sets since 1997. When they started the study, their average age was 10; they will be 19, on average, as they start the new study.

By comparing identical twins, who share the same genetic material, to fraternal twins, who are, on average, like other siblings in terms of the genetic material they share, researchers can determine whether risk factors such as high blood pressure and insulin levels are due to genetics or environmental factors.

They believe the cumulative impact of stressful environments will predict cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes.

Researchers will evaluate them two more t
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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