Researchers at the Wolfson Institute for Preventive Medicine and the Queen Mary School of Medicine and Dentistry examined all the evidence from different studies to see whether raised homocysteine is a cause of cardiovascular disease.
Some studies looked at homocysteine and the occurrence of heart attacks and strokes in large numbers of people, some focused on people with a common genetic variant that increases homocysteine levels to a small extent, while others tested the effects of lowering homocysteine levels.
The cohort studies and genetic studies yielded similar results, indicating a protective effect from lower homocysteine levels, even though they did not share the same sources of possible error, according to the study published in the British Medical Journal.
Since folic acid reduces homocysteine concentrations, it follows that increasing folic acid consumption will reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, says Wald.
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