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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

CUNY: Exploring the Role of Insulin in Heart Disease Among Men

Men have shorter life expectancies than women, in part due to the higher rates of heart disease among men. To address this disparity, heart disease is now being considered with the well-established evolutionary biology theory that the human body ultimately has limited capacity so that investment in one area may impact another.

Men have higher genetically-predicted insulin and insulin resistance than women. Insulin drives growth and reproduction which trade-off against longevity and the use of insulin has long been suspected to play a role in cardiovascular disease, especially in men.

A mendelian randomization study led by CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy professor Dr. Mary Schooling and published in Communications Biology, showed that, consistent with the theory, men with higher insulin levels had a higher risk of heart attack and angina.

Not only does this study shed new light on the reason for men’s greater vulnerability to heart disease, Dr. Schooling says, it also suggests new targets of intervention for a leading cause of global mortality and raises questions about the best way of managing diabetes so as to reduce the risk of heart disease.

“Further investigation of the role of minimizing insulin—within the healthy range—on cardiovascular disease is warranted, particularly to tackle sexual disparities in health,” Dr. Schooling says.

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