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News1995December › Cholesterol: debate rages › December 1995

Cholesterol: debate rages

High cholesterol levels may be dangerous in men although the jury's still out over this but is it the same for women?

High cholesterol levels may be dangerous in men although the jury's still out over this but is it the same for women?

Women aged between 35 and 44 have a death rate from heart disease that is just one fourth that of men of a similar age, and they are only one-fifth as likely to develop a heart condition.

Earlier studies have shown that women's risks of developing a heart condition are not lessened even if their cholesterol levels are lowered through diet.

Even when the risk of a heart condition increases as the woman gets older, there is no evidence to link it to raised cholesterol levels.

Bearing all this in mind, researchers from the University of San Francisco have concluded that healthy women do not need to worry about their cholesterol levels.

But Dutch researchers, who have just completed a study among 23,000 men and 26,000 women, all aged between 30 and 54, discovered that women with high cholesterol levels suffered a fourfold increase in mortality from a heart condition. Mortality from all causes also increased by 60 per cent among women with high cholesterol levels.

The Dutch agreed about one thing, however. Men had a fivefold higher risk of death from a heart disease than women (JAMA, October 11, 1995, and BMJ, September 23, 1995).


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