Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is the leading cause of death in the United States and, despite recent progress in prevention and control, is expected to remain the leading cause of death through 2030.
Studies have shown that diet plays a role in IHD, but it is not completely understood how. Over 40 years ago, copper deficiency was suggested as a cause of IHD, and zinc excess as possibly harmful, but the hypothesis had not been rigorously tested. To settle the score on this long-standing hypothesis, CUNY SPH Professor Mary Schooling led a Mendelian Randomization study with recent MPH alum Hanish Kodali and Assistant Professor Brian Pavilonis which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study found copper to be negatively associated and zinc to be positively associated with IHD.
“It was amazing to find, as expected, that copper lowers risk and zinc increases it,” Schooling says.
Further investigation of the effects, particularly of copper, on IHD may provide a practical means of reducing the leading cause of mortality and morbidity.