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Drink To Your Health

Drink To Your HealthA gene may determine whether moderate drinking helps or hurts cholesterol levels, say Tufts researchers.

Boston [04.18.01] Is moderate drinking really effective at lowering levels of bad cholesterol? The answer, according to a new Tufts study, may depend on your genes.

While alcohol helps some people significantly lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol, a new study by Tufts' Jose Ordovas helps explain why many people experience the exact opposite effect.

According to Reuters, Ordovas' research linked the apolepoprotein E gene -- which comes in three forms: E2, E3, and E4 -- with the impact of moderate drinking on LDL cholesterol.

"In the study, male drinkers with at least one E2 version of the gene had the lowest level of LDL cholesterol -- even lower than nondrinkers and regardless of age, weight, smoking habits, and fat and calorie intakes," reported Reuters.

But Ordovas discovered that "men with the E4 version of the gene had the highest LDL concentrations. Their level of 'bad' cholesterol was higher than nondrinkers, regardless of other cholesterol-influencing factors," reported Reuters.

Women, according to the Tufts study, were not effected by the gene variations.

So is there are way to determine which version of the gene you have?

Ordovas told Reuters that the best indicator is an Alzheimer's test, since the E4 version of the gene has been identified as a major indicator of the disorder.

But the Tufts scientist says more research needs to be conducted in order to determine the role of behavior in raising or lowering LDL cholesterol.

"It has been shown over and over that drinkers are different from nondrinkers in many other behavioral aspects," Ordovas says in a Reuters article. "Therefore, we need replication of these findings in other populations with... different dietary and behavioral habits."

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