SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

An enormous amount of research has yielded significant knowledge about ethnic differences in sodium homeostasis and blood pressure regulation. Consistent findings such as greater sodium-sensitivity, lower potassium excretion and high higher serum sodium levels in African Americans need further exploration to define more precise physiological mechanisms. The genetic alleles associated with sodium homeostasis in relation to blood pressure have accounted for only a small proportion of the variance in blood pressure. Several allelic variants differ in frequency among ethnic groups and heat-adapted genetic variants have a high prevalence in low latitudes and hot, wet climates which lends support to the “sodium retention” hypothesis. The blood pressure disparities between African Americans and whites may, in part, be due to different allelic frequencies of genes associated with sodium homeostasis. However, with advances in genomics, environmental factors tend to be neglected in research. Better measures of environmental stress have recently been developed by anthropologists and should be included in research designs by investigators in other disciplines. Public health efforts should encourage food producers to reduce sodium content of its products, and physicians should encourage patients to reduce consumption of high sodium packaged and fast foods. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.