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December 3, 1982

Cholesterol and Disease—What Are the Facts?

JAMA. 1982;248(21):2888-2890. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330210070041

Coronary heart disease (CHD), caused usually by the secret and silent process atherosclerosis, is the number one killer disease in the United States today. High serum cholesterol levels, along with cigarette smoking and high BP, have clearly been established as the major risk factors for CHD. The evidence is extensive and unequivocal. There exist overwhelmingly persuasive data based on population studies, animal experimentation, and clinical and pathological investigation that clearly link higher plasma cholesterol levels with higher CHD morbidity and mortality.1,2

The evidence from a host of different prospective and retrospective studies carried out in many countries reveals that the higher the cholesterol level, the greater the risk of CHD. In individual subjects around the world, it can be shown that the cholesterol level, although clearly in part under genetic control, is greatly affected by environmental factors, especially diet. The higher the level of saturated fat and cholesterol in