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Volunteers needed for chocolate compound study

Volunteers are needed for the final phase of a Diabetes UK-funded study investigating whether flavonoids – compounds found in chocolate – can protect older women with diabetes from heart disease.

The first group of volunteers, recruited last April, have already been eating specially formulated chocolate twice a day for a year. Now researchers at the University of East Anglia need 40 more women to take part in the study.

Eating chocolate every day

Participants will be required to eat a small amount of chocolate everyday for one year and have their risk of heart disease tested on five occasions to see whether changes occur. This will involve giving blood and urine samples, having an ultrasound scan of their arteries and filling in questionnaires about their lifestyle. These tests will take place in Norwich, at either UEA or NNUH, and travel expenses will be reimbursed up to a distance of 60 miles round-trip.

Heart disease risk higher in women

The risk of death from coronary heart disease associated with Type 2 diabetes is about 50 per cent greater in women than it is in men. Research suggests that although statin therapy can reduce the risk of heart disease, foods like cocoa and soy which contain flavonoids, can offer further protection from the disease.

It is hoped the trial will pave the way for a larger clinical study to examine the subject in more detail.

Diabetes UK warns that people must not consume vast quantities of chocolate. “We certainly don’t advise people to start eating a lot of chocolate as it’s very high in sugar and fat", said Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK. "We would always recommend that people with diabetes eat a diet low in fat, salt and sugar with plenty of fruit and vegetables.

”However, there are compounds found in chocolate, called flavonoids, that are thought to provide some protection from heart disease. Diabetes UK is funding this trial to establish whether flavonoids can protect the heart in older women with diabetes who are five times more likely to develop heart disease than women without diabetes. A successful outcome of this research would hopefully mean being able to offer people at high risk better protection over and above that provided by conventional drugs."

To find out more or to volunteer, please telephone 01603 597296 and ask for Suzanne or David (study nurses) or Dr Peter Curtis (study co-ordinator) or

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