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‘Good’ cholesterol may be overrated

Surprise result questions heart protection from HDL

8:42pm, December 13, 2012

2012 SCIENCE NEWS TOP 25: 19

Sometimes new research makes us reconsider what we know. One example this year was cholesterol, which has long been divided into black-and-white simplicity — good and bad, HDL and LDL. Because people with higher HDL tend to have fewer heart attacks (and those with high LDL have more of them), it has been a fair distinction.

Or has it? An international team looked at medical data from thousands of people with and without a history of heart attacks, a collection that included some who had genetic variants resulting in higher-than-average HDL.

Surprisingly, the researchers found that having naturally higher HDL imparted no added protection against heart attacks (SN: 6/16/12, p. 14).

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