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HDL cholesterol is the cholesterol found in high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in the bloodstream. HDL's major purpose is to carry cholesterol to the liver where it can be excreted in the bile, the only way the body can get rid of cholesterol. High levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood are protective against atherosclerosis, a condition that can cause heart attacks and strokes, while low levels increase the risk of such conditions. The level of HDL cholesterol is generally determined genetically; but smoking, obesity, and inactivity can lower it and the smoking cessation, increased physical activity, and modest alcohol intake can increase it.
DONALD A. SMITH
Author Info: DONALD A. SMITH, The Gale Group Inc., Macmillan Reference USA, New York, Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health, 2002
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