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Starvation in Youth Linked to Heart Risk in Adulthood
Date:8/26/2011

18 and 21 years old at the time, had a lower risk of stroke than those who did not bear the brunt of the food shortages.

The authors of an editorial accompanying the report noted that the findings have modern-day relevance because the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that 925 million people worldwide are undernourished.

"Since the incidence of CVD [cardiovascular disease] is the number one cause of death globally, and rising in many parts of the world, further research into the impact of undernutrition during sensitive periods of growth and maturation is warranted," study first author Annet van Abeelen, a PhD epidemiology student at University Medical Center Utrecht, and colleagues wrote.

Although the researchers cited unhealthy lifestyles, changes in metabolism or traumatic stress as possible explanations for the increased risk of heart disease among adults who experienced starvation in their youth, they suggested that more research is needed to investigate this link.

"More knowledge in this field may lead to unique opportunities for prevention in the future," van Abeelen, who is also a PhD epidemiology student in the department of clinical epidemiology, biostatistics and bioinformatics at the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam, explained in a journal news release.

"Our study indicates that growth that has been hampered by undernutrition in later childhood, followed by a subsequent recovery, may have metabolic consequences that contribute to an increased risk of diseases later in adulthood," van Abeelen concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about child nutrition.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: European Heart Journal, news release, Aug. 25, 2011
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