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Relationship between skin color and blood pressure in egyptian adults: results from the national hypertension project.
Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205-2223, USA.
In many, but not all societies, dark skin color is associated with high blood pressure. Whether the association between skin color and blood pressure is independent of known determinants of blood pressure remains controversial. We examined the association between skin color and blood pressure in 835 Egyptian adults (370 men and 465 women) participating in the National Hypertension Project, a national survey of hypertension prevalence and blood pressure-related complications conducted in Egypt during 1991-1993. Skin color was assessed by measuring the concentration of cutaneous melanin in an unexposed area with the use of reflectance spectrophotometry. Higher concentrations of melanin were associated with lower body mass index, less education, manual labor (among men), and a lower urinary sodium-to-potassium ratio (among women). In multivariate regression analyses adjusted for age, body mass index, and education, there was a significant nonlinear association between blood pressure and skin color among women; in the lower to intermediate range of skin pigmentation, both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were higher in women with greater concentrations of cutaneous melanin. In men, blood pressure was not associated with skin color. When we used a subjective assessment of skin color, there was no significant difference in blood pressure between black-skinned Egyptians (predominantly of Nubian descent) and fair-skinned Egyptians for either gender. While the significant relationship in women appeared to be independent of known risk factors for hypertension, residual confounding may explain the association.
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