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Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(6):1163-6. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2007.09.019. Epub 2008 Jan 4.

A deleterious interaction between copper deficiency and sugar ingestion may be the missing link in heart disease.

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Duke University, Division of Neurosurgery, DUMC Box 3807, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Copper deficiency plays a vital role in atherogenesis. To the long list of risk factors for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease should be added the deleterious interaction between copper deficiency and carbohydrate consumption. Here we critically evaluate the role of copper in the diet and its role as a possible etiological factor in the development of cardiovascular disease. A possible mechanism for the development of heart disease due to copper deficiency is proposed. There are many known risk factors for the development of heart disease, including hyperlipidemia and hypertension; however, little emphasis has been placed on the role of copper on heart disease. Over the last couple of decades, dietary copper deficiency has been shown to cause a variety of metabolic changes, including hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia, hypertension, and glucose intolerance. Interestingly, these changes are common in the United States population and they are known risk factors for heart disease. Further research in this field is warranted considering the profound implications to people in the United States and around the world who consume processed foods marginally deficient in copper and replete with sugar. The only nutritional condition with signs and symptoms of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease may be copper deficiency. Improving levels of copper in the diet, by appropriate food selection or by addition of a daily multi-vitamin, is recommended.

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