The Lucky People of Limone sul Garda Are Immune to Heart Disease and Strokes

Cristoforo Pomaroli and Rosa Giovanelli had a son in 1780 in their small town in Italy, never knowing that they bequeathed a genetic legacy that offers hope for reversing heart disease two centuries later. The boy’s descendants in the northern Italian town of Limone inherited a genetic defect that protects them from the scourge of Western living — fatty deposits that clog the arteries. The 38 lucky carriers have a simple mutation in a protein of so-called good cholesterol that lets them eat red meat, sausage and butter without artery-clogging deposits. They range in age from the teens to nearly 90, and they have never worried about strokes or heart attacks since longevity runs in the family. Almost all are smokers and have the worst diet. Research has been ongoing to develop pharmaceutical treatments against heart disease based on mimicking the beneficial effects of the Limone gene mutation. Meanwhile, the residents of the tiny village continue to eat, drink and be merry, without worrying about heart disease.