Study suggests link between diet and clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP)

A couple shops for fresh produce at an outdoor food market.

A heart-healthful diet helps reduce the risk for a range of cardiovascular conditions, including having a heart attack or stroke. A study in JAMA Cardiology suggests nutrient-dense diets may also be associated with fewer incidents of clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP), a condition that’s caused by changes in hemopoietic stem cells and can increase the risk for coronary heart disease and blood-based cancers, like leukemia.  
Genetic ties to CHIP account for 3.6% of cases, which have led scientists to study other factors associated with these cell changes. Older age, smoking, type 2 diabetes, and premature menopause or having chemotherapy have emerged as CHIP predictors. To investigate the role diet may have in CHIP development, researchers analyzed data from 44,000 adults, ages 40-70, who shared information about their lifestyle and medical history through the UK Biobank, an open-access research library for scientists. Approximately 2,507 adults in this study, 5.7%, had CHIP. However, CHIP prevalence fell to 5.1% for adults who ate the highest proportion of heart-healthful foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and foods without added salt, but increased to 7.1% for adults who consumed fewer heart-healthful options. In this study, healthful dietary patterns also overlapped with fewer incidents of cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack or surgery to open a blocked artery, regardless of CHIP status.  
The authors note several factors may explain these associations. To start, nutrient-rich diets, such as those that center around fruits, vegetables, fiber, protein, and health-promoting fats are associated with lower levels of inflammation and support hematopoietic stem cell health. They shared ways future studies could expand on these findings and further explain connections between diet and CHIP development. The study was supported by the NHLBI.