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Gene plus exercise may reduce risk of coronary heart disease
By Bijal P. Trivedi

Reducing plasma triglycerides through exercise may depend on having a particular version of the paraoxonase gene, according to a study published in a recent issue of Genetic Epidemiology. High levels of triglycerides are associated with arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease.

The study focused on 262 men in Gerona, Spain, where there are many cardiovascular risk factors but a low rate of heart attacks. The R and Q versions, or variants, of the paraoxonase gene produce slightly different proteins; the R variant uses the amino acid arginine at position 192 of the protein, the Q variant uses glutamine in the same position. The researchers found that men carrying the R variant of the paraoxonase gene who were physically active, burning off between 184 to 370 kcal a day, significantly reduced triglycerides and boosted HDL, the so-called 'good' cholesterol, levels.

HDL and triglyceride levels in men with two copies of the Q variant of the paraoxonase gene remained unchanged.

In regions of Spain where people eat a high percentage of fatty foods, the R variant of the paraoxonase gene, in combination with exercise, may protect against heart attacks.

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Senti, M. et al. Effect of physical activity on lipid levels in a population-based sample of men with and without the Arg192 variant of the human paraoxonase gene. Genet Epidemiol 18, 276-286 (March, 2000).

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