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A nested case–control study of the association between melatonin secretion and incident myocardial infarction


Objectives Low nocturnal melatonin secretion is associated with cardiovascular risk factors, diabetes and hypertension, while individuals with prevalent cardiovascular disease have lower nocturnal melatonin levels. However, the prospective association of melatonin secretion with myocardial infarction (MI) has not been studied. We aimed to study the association between melatonin secretion and the risk of developing MI.

Methods We performed a prospective nested case–control study of participants from the Nurses' Health Study cohorts I and II. A total of 209 incident cases of fatal and non-fatal MI were identified among women who provided first morning voided urine specimens at baseline and were matched to 209 controls. Nocturnal melatonin secretion was assessed using 6-sulfatoxymelatonin concentrations in morning urines normalised to the urines' creatinine concentration. Multivariable conditional logistic regression was used to analyse associations independent of important risk factors.

Results Lower melatonin secretion was significantly associated with a higher risk of MI. After conditioning on matching variables, the OR for every one unit lower log-transformed sulfatoxymelatonin/creatinine ratio was 1.51 (95% CI 1.16 to 1.96). In multivariable models controlling for factors included in the American Heart Association Cardiovascular Risk Score plus circadian factors, every one unit lower in the ratio was associated with a significantly increased risk of MI (OR, 1.40; 95% CI 1.02 to 1.93). Women in the highest category had an estimated absolute risk of MI of 84 cases per 100 000 person-years compared with 197 cases per 100 000 person-years in the lowest category. The association was strongly modified by body mass index (BMI) (p value for interaction=0.02).

Conclusions Lower melatonin secretion was significantly associated with a greater risk of incident MI in women with increased BMI. Melatonin may be a novel and modifiable risk factor for MI among such women.

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