Is Homocysteine Innocent?

Despite homocysteine levels being lowered by up to 30 per cent there was no effect on cardiovascular disease. “The homocysteine hypothesis is dead. It seems that homocysteineis an innocent bystander,” said Bønaa. Results also showed there was a 40 per cent increase in the risk of new cancers in the group taking folic acid (p=0.08), an observation warranting further investigation. Bønaa said: “It’s believed that folic acid may speed up the division of cancer cells.”

In a bit of old news recyled from 2005, this press release indicates that treating homocysteine levels has no impact on mortality from cardiovascular disease.

Previous studies had suggested that folic acid and vitaminB-6 exerted a beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease through their ability to lower blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, thought to cause endothelial damage. This led some clinicians to prescribe B vitamins to their cardiovascular patients.

After three and a half years, results showed no difference for the primary end point of non-fatal/fatal MI and non fatal/fatal stroke between groups taking folic acid, vitamin B-6 and placebo. However, there was a 20 per cent higher risk of MI and stroke in the group taking folic acid and vitamin B-6.

The original 2005 presentation and comments are available on the website of the European Society of Cardiologists.

Homocysteine would thus be much like cholestorol: when present it’s a signal to get your act together but simply eliminating the substance from your bloodstream is pointless. It is a symptom and not the cause. The cause is your body out of balance from previous diet and lifestyle choices.

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