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ACG: Vegetarian Diets May Not Be Significantly Heart Healthier

Study finds no significant difference in 10-year cardiovascular risk

vegetables in a wok

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 19, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Vegetarians appear to have no significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease over 10 years compared to those who eat meat, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, held from Oct. 14 to 19 in Las Vegas.

Hyunseok Kim, M.D., M.P.H., an internal medicine resident at Rutgers New Jersey School of Medicine in Newark, and colleagues analyzed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007 to 2010. The study included 11,592 adults age 20 or older. Of those, 263 -- 2.3 percent -- followed a vegetarian diet. The researchers examined rates of obesity, average waist circumference, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome. They also assessed the Framingham cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk estimate.

The team found that vegetarians tended to be young (aged 20 to 39), female, and non-smokers. Vegetarians were less likely to be obese or have hypertension, and also had significantly lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome, after adjusting for age, sex, and race. However, the researchers observed no significant difference in Framingham CVD risk after adjustment.

"There was no significant difference in terms of Framingham CVD risk, after adjustment, implying lower CVD risk (2.7 versus 4.5 percent) may be confounded by younger age and female gender," the authors conclude.

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