Albumin is a protein made in the liver. In acute inflammation, such as atherosclerosis, the liver switches from making albumin to making more urgent proteins. The serum albumin levels are reduced as a result. Low albumin blood levels, even low normal, correlate with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD,) such as coronary heart disease and strokes. This correlation was studied by the authors relative to smoking cigarettes by following 7,690 British men from age 40 to 59 for an average of 16.8 years.
The mean serum albumin was 44.55 g/L at the start of the study. The mean albumin of men who developed CHD events was 44.17. The mean albumin of men who had a stroke was 44.01 and was 43.79 in men who died. Men who stayed healthy had a mean albumin of 44.76. Of the men with serum albumin below 43.00 g/L, 26.5% had a major CHD, 27.4% had a stroke, 30% had died and 17.8% were well.
Low serum albumin is strongly related to cigarette smoking. Blood albumin returned to the level of a person who had never smoked after 5 years of not smoking. The correlation between albumin levels and CVD was only seen in current or previous smokers. Albumin was the lowest in the heaviest smokers.
Serum albumin declines with aging. Low albumin is related to current smoking, reduced physical activity, preexisting disease, alcohol abuse and low social class. Serum albumin is high with increased BMI, total cholesterol and systolic blood pressure.
CONCLUSION: The correlation between low serum albumin and cardiovascular (CV) death results from cigarette smoking in men. Albumin may be a marker for the CV effects of smoking cigarettes. The Atherosclerosis Risk in Community study said “serum albumin levels may be a marker of susceptibility to the inflammatory response that results from smoking.” (A recent study by An, HJ, et al, (PMID: 20128656) showed that a hot water extract of Chlorella vulgaris in malnourished mice and in cells increased total protein, albumin and immune function.)
NOTE: Read about the increased immunity resulting from chlorella.
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