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Rare Gene Protects Greek Villagers from Cardiovascular Diseases

creteAccording to a new study by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK, residents of the small Cretan village of Anogia and surrounding areas, are at reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases despite a diet rich in animal fat.
The researchers found that people have evolved a rare genetic condition which protects them from cardiovascular disease and weight gain. This gene is 40 times more common in this small Greek population than elsewhere in Europe.
The gene known as R19X, was first found in the Amish population in 2008. It decreases triglyceride levels, while at the same time increases those of high density lipoproteins, also known as ‘good cholesterol’, both of which lowers the risk of heart disease. According to Eleftheria Zeggini, professor and lead author of the study, the residents of Anogia “have the same rate of diabetes as the general Greek population, but do not suffer from disease complications.” Another important factor is the way of life of these people. They live in mountainous villages in Crete and exercise a lot, which helps them to live long and healthy lives, despite a high-fat diet that would otherwise cause health complications.
This discovery may help in the development of new therapies and prevention strategies against heart disease, stroke, and metabolic disorders.

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