Finally, some good news on Americans’ health: Cholesterol levels are declining among adults nationwide — even those who are not taking medication, according to a new study reported in the Oct. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
A research team headed by Margaret D. Carroll of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined data on serum cholesterol levels in more than 37,000 people from 1988 to 2010, and found that average levels of total cholesterol, non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol all generally declined.
Since the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs increased during that same period, it might seem as though this was the reason for the drop. However, the new study shows that the general downward trends in lipids also occurred among adults not receiving medications.
Furthermore, among obese adults, average total cholesterol, non-HDL-C, LDL-C and geometric average triglycerides also declined between 1988 and 2010.
These findings led the researchers to conclude that changes in diet and lifestyle are helping to turn the tide.
"The favorable trends in TC [total cholesterol], non HDL-C and LDL-C may be due in part to a decrease in consumption of trans-fatty acids or other healthy lifestyle changes, in addition to an increase in the percentage of adults taking lipid-lowering medications," the authors stated.
They ruled out the possibility that the decrease in cholesterol was related to increased physical activity, a decline in obesity or reduction in the intake of saturated fat, noting that there has been little change has been made in those areas since 1988.
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