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Good Cholesterol Sometimes Bad

December 5, 2008

If you’re not one of the 17 percent of Americans who have high cholesterol, you may consider yourself healthy overall. New research that shows some good cholesterol can negatively affect your health may change your mind.

Conventional wisdom says having high levels of good cholesterol, or HDL, and low levels of bad cholesterol, or LDL, plays a large role in keeping you healthy. A recent study challenges that idea. After reviewing published data on the topic of good versus bad cholesterol, researchers at the University of Chicago found even when blood levels of HDL are comparable, HDL present in people with certain chronic diseases differs from HDL in healthy people. They discovered this is because normal HDL reduces inflammation while dysfunctional HDL doesn’t.

“For many years, HDL has been viewed as good cholesterol and has generated a false perception that the more HDL in the blood, the better,” first study author Angelo Scanu, M.D., of the University of Chicago in Chicago, Ill., was quoted as saying. “It is now apparent that subjects with high HDL are not necessarily protected from heart problems and should ask their doctor to find out whether their HDL is good or bad.”

High levels of LDL or total cholesterol are already known to be indicators of increased risk for heart disease.

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