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Psychosocial Factors and Plasma Lipids in Black and White Young Adults: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study Data

Knox, Sarah S. PhD; Jacobs, David R. PhD; Chesney, Margaret A. PhD; Raczynski, James PhD; McCreath, Heather MA

Original Article

These analyses examined the relationship between fasting plasma lipids and several psychosocial factors in a healthy cohort of 5115 black and white men and women between the ages of 18 and 30.Primary analyses were performed within race/gender subgroups and were supplemented with analyses examining consistency of associations across these groups. After controlling for age, high density lipoprotein (HDL) decreased, triglycerides increased, low density lipoprotein (LDL) increased, and the total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio increased with increasing level of education in black men. This pattern is, in general, opposite to that found in other groups, particularly white women, whose lipid profile was found to be less atherogenic the higher the education. These associations were strongly confounded with health behaviors. There was also a positive association between hostility and triglycerides in women but not in men. No significant association with any plasma lipid for either race or gender was found for Type A behavior, social support, or life events. Despite a narrow plasma lipid range in these young adults, these data support the conclusion that increasing education is associated with a less atherogenic plasma lipid profile, except in black men, for whom education is associated with a less favorable plasma lipid profile. Among other psychosocial factors, the only consistent finding was an inverse association between hostility and triglycerides in women.

From the Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland (S.S.K.); Division of Epidemiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota (D.R.J.); Division of General Internal Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California (M.A.C.); and Division of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama (J.R., H.M.).

Address reprint requests to: Sarah S. Knox, PhD, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Behavioral Medicine Scientific Research Group, II Rockledge Center, Rm 8120, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892-7936.

Received for publication July 21, 1994; revision received September 21, 1995.

Copyright © 1996 by American Psychosomatic Society
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