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Eating chocolates may increase risk of CHD, stroke in postmenopausal women

14 Jul 2018

Chocolate consumption is not associated with risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke or both combined in postmenopausal women free of pre-existing major chronic disease, a study suggests.

However, the association for both CHD and stroke combined is modified by age, with a significant positive linear trend and an increased risk seen in the highest quintile of chocolate consumption among women aged <65 years.

Multivariable Cox regression analyses were performed using data from 83,310 postmenopausal women with no pre-existing major chronic disease in the prospective Women’s Health Initiative cohort. A food-frequency questionnaire was used to evaluate chocolate intake. The authors ascertained physician-adjudicated events or deaths up to 30 September 2013.

A total of 3,246 CHD and 2,624 stroke events or deaths were recorded after exclusions, representing incidence rates of 3.9 percent and 3.2 percent during 1,098,091 and 1,101,022 person-years (13.4 years), respectively.

No correlation existed between chocolate intake and risk of CHD (p=0.94 for linear trend) or stroke (p=0.24). There were comparable results for CHD and stroke combined (p=0.30), but these were significantly modified by age (p=0.02 for interaction).

Women aged <65 years at baseline who ate 1 oz (28.35 g) of chocolate <1/month, 1 to <1.5/month, 1.5 to <3.5/month, 3.5/month to <3/week and ≥3/week had hazard ratios of 1.00 (referent), 1.17 (95 percent CI, 1.00–1.36), 1.05 (0.90–1.22), 1.09 (0.94–1.25) and 1.27 (1.09–1.49), respectively (p=0.0005 for linear trend). There was no association seen for older women.

“Three recent meta-analyses found significant prospective inverse associations between chocolate intake and cardiovascular disease risk,” the authors said. “Evidence from these meta-analyses suggests that such inverse associations may only apply to elderly individuals or those with pre-existing major chronic disease.”

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