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Dietary cholesterol not associated with stroke risk

Friday 24th May 2019
A study from the University of Eastern Finland has shown that consuming moderately high amounts of dietary cholesterol does not increase the risk of a stroke.
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There has been some controversy in the past as to whether or not dietary cholesterol intake can increase the risk of suffering a stroke, with the same argument also being had over consuming eggs. Studies on the area have been contradictory, but new research from Finland seems to have settled the debate for now.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland observed 1,950 men, aged between 42 and 60 years, assessing them using the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. Their dietary habits were then recorded over a period of 21 years. 

During this time, 217 of the participants were diagnosed with a stroke. However, neither dietary cholesterol nor egg consumption seemed to affect the probability of suffering this condition.

These results are particularly significant because of the high prevalence of apolipoprotein E phenotype 4 (APOE4) in Finland. This substance, which is passed on genetically, is present in approximately a third of Finns. It affects cholesterol metabolism, which increases the amount of dietary cholesterol that makes it into the bloodstream.

In total, 32 per cent of the 1,015 participants whose APOE phenotype was known were carriers of APOE4. However, the study found there was no association between this and increased risk of a stroke, further solidifying the lack of connection between stroke and cholesterol. 

This is the first time that research data on the association between cholesterol intake and risk of stroke has been made available for people who carry APOE4.

The findings of this study are significant, although they have their limits. In particular, the highest control group consumed an average of 520mg of dietary cholesterol and one egg per day. The findings - published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - cannot therefore be applied to those with a cholesterol or egg intake higher than this.

Written by Martin Lambert

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