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NewsBites September 2013 Issue

Average American Cholesterol Levels No Longer Improving

Americans’ LDL cholesterol levels have stopped dropping—and no one knows why. A new study published in PLoS One reports that average levels of the “bad cho-lesterol” declined from 120 milligrams per deciliter in 2001 to 104.7 in 2008 (less than 100 is “optimal”). But since then the improve-ment has stopped, with 2011 levels averaging an almost unchanged 104.3. The study used data from a medical testing company on blood LDL levels of almost 105 million adults. “We’ve raised a red flag that something dra-matic happened,” said the researchers, who offered three theories: The recession may have made patients cut back on doctor visits and cholesterol-lowering statin drugs; the benefits of taking those medications could have plateaued; or increases in obesity might have begun to overwhelm statins’ benefits.

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