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nightsurfer on 2009-11-21July 29, 2008 — The low rate of atherosclerosis and heart disease in Japanese people may be related to their very high levels of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids rather than genetic factors, a new study suggests .
The study, known as Electron-Beam Tomography, Risk Factor Assessment Among Japanese and US Men in the Post-World War II Birth Cohort (ERA JUMP) included 868 randomly selected men aged 40 to 49. Of these, 281 were Japanese men living in Japan; 306 were white men living in the US, and 281 were third- or fourth-generation Japanese American men from Hawaii. All study participants had a physical examination, completed a lifestyle questionnaire, and had blood tests to measure cholesterol levels and levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Atherosclerosis was assessed by measuring carotid intima-medial thickness (IMT) and coronary artery calcification (CAC).
Results showed that the Japanese men had the lowest levels of atherosclerosis, whereas whites and Japanese Americans had similar higher levels. The Japanese men also had twofold higher levels of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids than white and Japanese Americans.
The study, published in the August 5, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (available online July 28), was conducted by a group led by Dr Akira Sekikawa (University of Pittsburgh, PA, and Shiga University of Medical Science, Japan).
They found that compared with white or Japanese American men living in the US, Japanese men living in Japan had twice the blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids — a finding that was independently linked to low levels of atherosclerosis.