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Routine periodic fasting as prescribed by some religions may contribute to reduced rates of coronary artery disease (CAD), a study indicates.
The research, involving Mormon participants of the Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study (IHCS), showed that periodic abstinence from food and drink was linked to significantly reduced odds for CAD on coronary angiography.
Mormons, or followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), routinely fast as part of their religious activities, explain the authors, led by Benjamin Horne (University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA).
Other potentially cardioprotective lifestyle behaviors associated with the religion, including the proscription of smoking, drinking coffee, tea, or alcohol, regularly attending worship, and receiving social support have been studied, whereas routine fasting has not.
To address this imbalance, the researchers first evaluated 4629 patients in the ICHS for any association of religious preference with CAD.
They then surveyed another 448 patients for the association of behavioral factors with CAD, using routine fasting as the primary variable
As reported in the American Journal of Cardiology, 61% of LDS followers compared with 66% of all others had CAD (70% or more coronary stenosis), indicating the LDS followers had a 19% reduced odds for CAD, after adjusing for confounders including tobacco smoking (p=0.009).
The survey results indicated that 64% of patients who fasted compared with 76% of those who did not fast had CAD. Thus fasting was associated with a 45% lower odds for CAD (p=0.01), an association that remained after adjusting for traditional risk factors, at a 54% reduced odds (p=0.007).
"Not only proscription of tobacco, but also routine period fasting was associated with lower risk of CAD," the authors conclude.
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