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What causes high cholesterol?

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Cholesterol is both good and bad. At normal levels, it is an essential substance for the body. However, if concentrations in the blood get too high, it becomes a silent danger that puts people at risk of heart attack.

Cholesterol is found in every cell of the body and has important natural functions when it comes to digesting foods, producing hormones, and generating vitamin D. It is manufactured by the body but can also be taken in from food. It is waxy and fat-like in appearance.



There are two types of cholesterol; LDL (low-density lipoproteins, bad cholesterol) and HDL (high-density lipoproteins, good cholesterol).

In this article, we will explain the role of cholesterol. We will also discuss the causes of high cholesterol, and its symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

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Fast facts on cholesterol:

  • Cholesterol is an essential substance that is produced by the body but is also ingested from animal-derived foods.

  • The greatest risk factors for high cholesterol are modifiable lifestyle choices – diet and exercise.

  • Having high cholesterol does not usually produce any symptoms.

  • If lifestyle changes are unsuccessful or cholesterol levels are very high, lipid-lowering drugs such as statins may be prescribed.

    What is cholesterol?

    Cholesterol is an oil-based substance and does not mix with the blood, which is water-based. It is carried around the body by lipoproteins.

    Two types of lipoprotein carry the parcels of cholesterol:

    • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – cholesterol carried by this type is known as “bad” cholesterol.

    • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – cholesterol carried by this type is known as “good” cholesterol.

    Cholesterol has four primary functions, without which we could not survive, these are:

    • contributing to the structure of cell walls

    • making up digestive bile acids in the intestine

    • allowing the body to produce vitamin D

    • enabling the body to make certain hormones

    Causes of high cholesterol

    High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease and a cause of heart attacks. A build-up of cholesterol is part of the process that narrows arteries, called atherosclerosis, in which plaques form and cause restriction of blood flow.

    Reducing intake of fat in the diet helps manage cholesterol levels. In particular, it is helpful to limit foods that contain:

    • Cholesterol – from animal foods, meat, and cheese.

    • Saturated fat – found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, deep-fried, and processed foods.

    • Trans fats – found in some fried and processed foods.

    Being overweight or obese can also lead to higher blood LDL levels. Genetics can contribute to high cholesterol – very high LDL levels are found in the inherited condition familial hypercholesterolemia. Abnormal cholesterol levels can also arise due to other conditions, including:

    • diabetes

    • liver or kidney disease

    • polycystic ovary syndrome

    • pregnancy and other conditions that increase levels of female hormones

    • underactive thyroid gland

    • drugs that increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol (progestins, anabolic steroids, and corticosteroids).

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Health & Lifestyle

Cote d’Ivoire: Destroying the Killer Rice

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Authorities in Cote d’Ivoire have destroyed 18,000 tonnes of rice declared to be unfit for human consumption.

This follows tests carried out by the country’s consumer association which had demanded the government to do so after the cargo from Myanmar had been refused entry in Togo, Guinea and Ghana over quality issues.

The national and international quality control tests revealed the unfit nature of the rice.

It should be noted that most African countries depend on imports because local farmers are unable to meet the ever rising demands.

Source: Africanews

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Health & Lifestyle

Mali: Donkeys deliver vaccines as diseases spike with violence

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Reuters DAKAR –

With spiraling ethnic violence exposing more children in Mali to fatal diseases, health workers are using donkeys and boats to deliver life-saving vaccines, charities said on Wednesday.

In the central Mopti region – where 157 people died in one attack last month – suspected measles cases rose five-fold in one year to 98 in 2018, U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said, due to a four-fold jump in unvaccinated children to 70,000.

Motorcycles, which health workers used to reach remote villages, have been banned to reduce militant activity, forcing them to use traditional means like horses, it said.

“The problem of vaccination is directly linked to the current conflict,” said Patrick Irenge, medical coordinator for the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which is using cars and boats as mobile clinics to reach cut off communities.

“If there is a lull in the violence, a small window that opens, we organize a vaccination campaign.”

Last month’s massacre was the deadliest to date in a conflict between Dogon hunters and Fulani herders which has displaced tens of thousands of civilians in the West African country since it escalated last year.

Pneumonia is one of the top killers of children in Mali and it can be prevented with vaccines – as can measles – but it is too dangerous for many parents to venture out with children.

“Transport is difficult because we don’t have the means to rent a vehicle or a horse cart,” said Aissata Barry, a 34-year-old mother in the village of Kankelena, about 4 km (2.5 miles) from the nearest health center in the town of Sofara.

“There are rapists on the road. That’s what we’re afraid of,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone, adding that one of her neighbors was raped two weeks ago.

Mamadou Kasse, a local health worker who vaccinated Barry’s children, said the number of children he can reach each day has fallen since he swapped his motorbike for an eight-hour ride in a donkey cart with a cooler full of vaccines.

Reporting by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org

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