Science - April 1, 2004

Cholesterol research in women requires bigger test groups

The amount of cholesterol in the blood at any given moment does not only depend on genes and diet. Cholesterol levels fluctuate continuously, and Wageningen researchers have measured the size of these. The results give an indication of how many subjects researchers need for cholesterol studies.

The Wageningen researchers published their findings in the International Journal of Epidemiology. “We regard this primarily as a contribution to methodology,” explains co-author Dr Peter Zock, at the Human Nutrition Group. “We have confirmed that in women and people with two particular variants of cholesterol genes the fluctuations in cholesterol levels are bigger. If researchers want to compensate for this they need a larger group of subjects for taking blood samples.” The article gives information on how researchers can calculate the number of subjects they need to take the fluctuations into account. | W.K.