Which Older Women With Diabetes Should Take Vitamins?

Blood test can aid doctors in identifying those who would be helped

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FRIDAY, April 2, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A blood test can help doctors identify older women with diabetes who would benefit -- or suffer -- from taking vitamin doses meant to protect their hearts, says a study from researchers at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

The simple blood test screens for genetic variations in a blood protein called haptoglobin.

Postmenopausal women with diabetes who carry two copies of the variation called haptoglobin-2 face an increased risk of narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) if they take doses of the antioxidant vitamins E and C, says the study. It appears in the April issue of Diabetes Care.

But postmenopausal women with diabetes who have two copies of haptoglobin-1 seem to reduce their risk of atherosclerosis when they take the same vitamins.

"This study says that you can find subgroups of people who actually might benefit and subgroups which will actually be harmed by antioxidant vitamins, so it is important to know which haptoglobin type you are," researcher Dr. Andrew P. Levy said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues examined the effects of the vitamins in 299 postmenopausal women with at least partial blockage in one coronary artery.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about antioxidant vitamins.

SOURCE: American Technion Society, news release, April 2004

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