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[chole- + sterol]
C27H45OH, a monohydric alcohol; a sterol widely distributed in animal tissues and occurring in egg yolks, various oils, fats, myelin in brain, spinal cord and axons, liver, kidneys, and adrenal glands. It is synthesized in the liver and is a normal constituent of bile. It is the principal constituent of most gallstones and of atherosclerotic plaques found in arteries. It is important in metabolism, serving as a precursor to various steroid hormones, e.g., sex hormones, adrenal corticoids.
An elevated blood level of cholesterol increases a person's risks of developing coronary heart disease (CHD). Lowering elevated total blood cholesterol levels and the levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol reduces the risk of heart attacks both in persons with a prior history of coronary disease and in asymptomatic individuals.
Cholesterol levels may be decreased by eating a diet that is low in cholesterol and fat and high in fiber; exercising regularly; and taking medications. Drugs used to control cholesterol levels include lovastatin (and other statins); niacin; and bile-acid resins, e.g., cholestyramine.
CHOLESTEROL CRYSTALS, POLARIZED (Orig. mag. ×400)