Chinese and Japanese Matsutake Dishes

The Ingredient – Matsutake

Blood Test May Spot Serious Health Risks in Women

A new blood test may help identify a woman’s risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer, a new study suggests.

The test, which measures levels of a substance called proneurotensin, may also spot an increased risk of early death, the researchers behind the study said.

“In women, but not in men, there were very strong relationships between high concentrations of proneurotensin in the blood and the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Olle Melander, professor of internal medicine at Lund University in Malmo, Sweden.

“Women with high levels of proneurotensin in the blood died significantly earlier than women with normal proneurotensin concentrations, and the excess mortality with high proneurotensin was primarily caused by cardiovascular diseases,” added Melander.

Results of the study are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Proneurotensin is a precursor of neurotensin, a hormone produced in the brain and in the digestive system that is secreted during meals — particularly high-fat meals. Neurotensin has a number of jobs in the body: It helps with food digestion, the regulation of body temperature and the sensation of pain, and is also involved in the regulation of appetite and feelings of fullness, Melander said.

In several recent studies, the hormone has also been linked to heart disease risk and to the growth of breast cancer tissue, said Melander.

But neurotensin levels are very difficult to measure. Proneurotensin, its precursor, however, is a stable indicator of the production and secretion of neurotensin, Melander explained.

The researchers hypothesized that the neurotensin system might play a role in the development of diseases related to excess weight, which include diabetes, breast cancer and heart disease.