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Animal protein linked to high blood pressure in elderly people

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By David Liu and editing by Aimee Keenan Green

Eating meat may increase the risk of high blood pressure or hypertension, according to a study published in the Dec 2010 issue of Journal of Hypertension.

The study led by W. Altorf-van der Kuil of Wageningen University in Wageningen, The Netherlands and colleagues did not find an association between animal protein intake and risk of high blood pressure in the general population.  However, the researcher did find the association among those who aged at least 70 years.

The study was meant to examine the association between intakes of several types of proteins including total, plant, animal, dairy, meat, grain, fish fish, soy and nut protein, and incidence of hypertension in 2,241 people enrolled in the Rotterdam Study.

At baseline, all subjects aged 55 years or older were free of hypertension. During a 6-year follow-up, 2,113 cases of high blood pressures were identified.

Overall, there was no association between intake of total protein or any type of protein and risk for high blood pressure. Gender and body mass index did not affect the relation between proteins and hypertension risk.

However, among 559 men and women aged 70 years, high intake of animal protein was associated with 37 percent increased risk of high blood pressure even though the association was non-existent among those aged below 70.

The researchers concluded "Total dietary protein or types of protein are not related to incident hypertension in this older population. In the more aged, however, high intake of animal protein may increase the risk of hypertension, which warrants further investigation."

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