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Circulation. 2007 Nov 20;116(21):2383-90.

Socioeconomic position, race/ethnicity, and inflammation in the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis.

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1
Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48104, USA. nranjit@umich.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Low socioeconomic position is known to be associated with cardiovascular events and atherosclerosis. Reasons for these associations remain a topic of research. Inflammation could be an important mediating mechanism linking socioeconomic position to cardiovascular risk.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

This cross-sectional study used data from the baseline examination of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a study of 6814 men and women 45 to 84 years of age. Race- and ethnicity-stratified regression analyses were used to estimate associations of household income and education with C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 before and after adjustment for infection and medication use, psychosocial factors, behaviors, adiposity, and diabetes mellitus. Low income was associated with higher concentrations of interleukin-6 in all race/ethnic groups. Percent differences associated with 1-SD-lower income were 9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 7 to 11), 6% (95% CI, 1 to 10), 8% (95% CI, 4 to 11), and 8% (95% CI, 3 to 13) for whites, Chinese, blacks, and Hispanics. Low levels of education were associated with higher levels of interleukin-6 only among whites and blacks (percent difference in interleukin-6 associated with 1-SD-lower education: 9% [95% CI, 6 to 12] among Whites, and 7% [95% CI, 3 to 10] among blacks). Similar patterns were observed for C-reactive protein. Adiposity was the single most important factor explaining socioeconomic position associations, especially among blacks and whites. A smaller effect was seen for psychosocial factors and behaviors in all race groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

Both household income and education are associated with inflammation, but associations vary across race/ethnic groups. Associations likely result from socioeconomic position patterning of adiposity and other factors.

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