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J Clin Epidemiol. 2003 Feb;56(2):171-9.

Lifestyle factors and the risk of varicose veins: Edinburgh Vein Study.

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Wolfson Unit for Prevention of Peripheral Vascular Diseases, Public Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG, United Kingdom.


The objective of this study was to determine the inter-relationships between a range of lifestyle factors and risk of varicose veins to identify which factors may be implicated in the etiology. An age-stratified random sample of 1566 subjects (699 men and 867 women) aged 18 to 64 years was selected from 12 general practices throughout Edinburgh. A detailed self-administered questionnaire was completed, and a comprehensive physical examination determined the presence and severity of varicose veins. The slightly higher age-adjusted prevalence of varicose veins in men than in women (39.7% versus 32.2%) was not explained by adjustment for an extensive range of lifestyle risk factors (male odds ratio [OR] 2.11, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.51-2.96). In both sexes, increasing height showed a significant relationship with varicose veins (male OR 1.50, 95% CI 1.18-1.93 and female OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.01-1.58). Among women, body mass index was associated with an increased risk of varicose veins (OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.02-1.54). The current study casts doubt as to whether varicose veins occur predominantly in women. In addition, no consistent relationship with any lifestyle factor was shown. Self-reported evidence suggested a familial susceptibility, thereby warranting future genetic studies.

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