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Association between C-reactive protein, metabolic cardiovascular risk factors, obesity and oral contraceptive use in young adults


OBJECTIVE: This study sought to determine the relationship between levels of the inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein (CRP), cardiovascular risk factors and oral contraceptive use in young adults.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study of a community cohort.

SUBJECTS: A total of 822 men and women aged 26 y.

MEASUREMENTS: CRP, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, lipid and lipoprotein levels, smoking status, socioeconomic status, health status, and hormonal contraceptive use in women.

RESULTS: Multiple regression analysis showed that obesity was independently related to CRP with an increase in ratio CRP of 1.03 (95% CI 1.01, 1.05) for men and 1.07 (1.05, 1.09) for women associated with a 1 kg/m2 increase in BMI. In women, combined oral contraceptive use was associated with a ratio change in CRP of 1.52 (1.27, 1.82) compared with nonusers. Other independent determinants of CRP in men and women were apolipoprotein B level, systolic blood pressure and apolipoprotein A1 in men. Univariate analysis showed that the relationship between CRP and BMI, systolic blood pressure and apolipoprotein B was significantly stronger in women than men.

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that obesity is associated with inflammation independent of other cardiovascular risk factors that may contribute to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease in men and women. Elevated CRP related to combined oral contraceptive use may influence the rate of cardiovascular events in young women.

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We thank the Dunedin Study members, Unit research staff, Air New Zealand and the study founder Phil Silva. The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit is supported by the New Zealand Health Research Council. Data collection was supported by grants from the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand and the University of Otago (Otago Research Grant).

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Correspondence to M J A Williams.

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Williams, M., Williams, S., Milne, B. et al. Association between C-reactive protein, metabolic cardiovascular risk factors, obesity and oral contraceptive use in young adults. Int J Obes 28, 998–1003 (2004).

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  • inflammation
  • hormones
  • lipids

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