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PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

Changing ideas on cholesterol

February 05, 2007|Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Special to The Times

What is considered low when it comes to total cholesterol? My levels, always low, are now at 120, just like they were in my mid-20s. I am almost 49. The highest it has been is 142.

I am very forgetful, especially now with names. I don't sleep well and have never been a great communicator because I have trouble finding the right words. Is this related to my cholesterol?

Many doctors believe that cholesterol can never be too low. New research throws that concept into question. A January study in the Archives of Neurology concluded that "a decline in serum total cholesterol levels may be associated with early stages in the development of dementia."

Another study published online in December in the journal Movement Disorders has linked low LDL cholesterol with a higher occurrence of Parkinson's disease.

The importance of cholesterol in neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease is controversial. But you might want to discuss your lab results with your doctor in light of the new research.

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I've heard that steeping tea for 30 seconds and then pouring off the water and steeping the bag again in new water dramatically reduces the amount of caffeine in the tea. I love tea, but too much caffeine triggers my acid reflux.

Much of the caffeine in tea is released within the first half-minute of steeping. Your technique won't decaffeinate your tea completely, but it should help considerably -- maybe enough to prevent your heartburn.

Joe Graedon, a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon, an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition, can be reached at www.peoplespharmacy.com or care of this newspaper.

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