Monthly Archives: July 2016

The reason cholesterol levels are improving

Americans’ cholesterol levels are heading in the right direction, a new study finds.

In the United States, average cholesterol levels have decreased significantly from 1999-2000 to 2013-2014, according to the study, published today (Nov. 30) in a research letter in the journal JAMA Cardiology.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can build up in blood vessels and increase a person’s risk for heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the body needs some cholesterol to function. For example, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, carries cholesterol to the liver so that it can be flushed from the body, the CDC says.

In the study, the researchers focused on three cholesterol measurements: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol; triglycerides , which are a type of fat; and total cholesterol. Total cholesterol includes triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.

During the study period, total cholesterol levels in U.S. adults decreased from an average of 204 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) in 1999-2000 to an average of 189 mg/dL in 2013-2014, the researchers found. Adults should aim for total cholesterol levels of less than 200 mg/dL, the CDC says.

Triglycerides also decreased during the study period, from an average of 123 mg/dL in 1999-2000 to an average of 97 mg/dL in 2013-2014, according to the study. A healthy triglyceride level is less than 150 mg/dL, the CDC says.

For LDL cholesterol, there was a decrease from an average of 126 mg/dL in 1999-2000 to an average of 111 mg/dL in 2013-2014, according to the study. A healthy LDL cholesterol level is less than 100 mg/dL, according to the CDC.

The researchers noted that the decreases in cholesterol levels were similar in people who were taking cholesterol-lowering medications and those who were not.

The declines in cholesterol levels over the study period may be due to efforts to remove trans fats from foods, the researchers, led by Asher Rosinger, an epidemic intelligence service officer at the CDC, wrote in the research letter.

Trans-fat consumption has been shown to increase people’s levels of bad cholesterol and decrease their levels of good cholesterol — two changes that can increase a person’s risk for heart disease .

Although the Food and Drug Administration did not officially ban trans fats until 2013, by that point, many food companies and fast-food restaurants had already begun to reduce or remove trans fats from their products. Indeed, the FDA estimates that between 2003 and 2012, trans-fat consumption in the U.S. declined by 78 percent.

People got stuck in themselves

Americans just can’t stop sticking things in themselves and each other.

Renewing an inward-looking annual tradition, Deadspin has released an inventory of items that people stuffed, shoehorned or otherwise deposited into human orifices across the nation.

Culling emergency-room data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the site organized the list by cavity — ranging from the nostrils to the nether regions. The website did not always specify just why these items ended up where they did.

But American ears, for example, attracted all sorts of odds and ends, from an unspecified chess piece to a deceased beetle.

One person opted for a flammable liquid and filled his ear canal with gasoline.

American noses were subjected to a startling array of insertions, including a plastic snake and miniature hockey sticks.

The commission offered a detailed description of one wayward nasal project involving a raisin:

“STUCK A RAISIN UP HIS RIGHT NOSTRIL, BROTHER TRIED TO REMOVE WITH TWEEZERS BUT PATIENT MOVED,” one emergency-room report read.

Toughest mudder eats bugs

At 2 a.m., Stefanie Bishop had to slow down. She had been running laps through a grueling 5-mile obstacle course for 14 hours beneath the searing Las Vegas sun. She was severely dehydrated, suffering from heat exhaustion, and so nauseated she couldn’t keep anything down. And, she still had 10 more hours to go.

Somehow Bishop, a 34-year-old Long Island native, managed to keep going — and win the title of World’s Toughest Mudder, considered the championship event in the rugged sport of extreme obstacle racing. She completed the course 17 times in a 24-hour period, more than any other woman competing and placing her 15th overall in the 1,500-person field.

he event, which took place in Nevada in November, airs Sunday on CBS, showcasing Bishop’s journey from exhaustion to exaltation as she faces a terrifying 35-foot jump off a ledge into a lake and battles obstacles such as the “Augustus Gloop,” where participants must wade through a chest-high pit of water and then scramble up a vertical tube, while a cascade of water gushes down.

“I came back from feeling like I was going to puke,” she said. “I did a cartwheel down the finish line.”

Her victory this year came after a difficult 2015. She intended to compete in the World’s Toughest Mudder that year, but had to sideline her plans after injuring her ankle and getting diagnosed with Lyme disease.