AHA Press Release: DALLAS, Jan. 1 --
If any molecule could be said to exhibit a
form of mob psychology, insulin might be that molecule. A report
in the Jan. 1 issue of the American Heart Association journal
Circulation provides new evidence that persistently elevated
blood levels of insulin are associated with increased cardiovascular
disease risk in children and young adults.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps break
down sugar to get energy.
Researchers from the Bogalusa Heart Study, a 22-year examination
of heart and blood vessel disease risk factors in a biracial population
of children and young adults, gathered data on 739 males and females
when they were 5-23 years old in 1981-82, and again when they
were 13-31 in 1988-91. They found "elevated insulin levels
persist from childhood through young adulthood, resulting in a
clinically relevant adverse CVD risk profile in young adults."
The Tulane University (New Orleans) scientists found that individuals
with relatively high or low blood levels of insulin maintained
those levels through the eight intervening years. And, young
men and women with persistently high blood levels of insulin were
heavier, had higher blood pressures, higher blood glucose levels
and higher blood levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein
(LDL, the so-called "bad" cholesterol), very low density
lipoprotein (VLDL) and triglycerides (another blood fat) than
their low-insulin counterparts. The high-insulin group also had
lower levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL, the "good"
"Subjects with persistently high levels of insulin . .
. were more likely to develop hypertension, dyslipidemia [blood
fat disorders that predispose to coronary heart disease] and obesity
in young adulthood," report Gerald Berenson, M.D., and his
He and his associates also noted associations between insulin
and risk factors or parental history of disease in a subset of
the study group. Study subjects with high insulin levels also
were more likely to have parents affected by diabetes.
Thus, the researchers conclude, "The presence of multiple
cardiovascular risk factors and parental cardiovascular diseases
among young individuals with persistently high insulin levels
points to the need for preventive measures early in life."
For original abstract, click here.