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The Turkish Heart Study, 20 Years Later

Narrator: This is Science Today. Twenty years ago, the University of California, San Francisco's Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease initiated the Turkish Heart Study. Dr. Thomas Bersot, a cholesterol researcher at the Gladstone, says the study sought to understand why many Turks have low levels of ‘good' HDL cholesterol, and how that factor increases the risk for heart disease.

Bersot: Out of that study of about ten thousand people came the observation that it didn't make a difference where you lived or what you ate - people in Turkey had the lowest HDL cholesterol levels of any ethnic group that's been studied and that just hadn't been discovered before.

Narrator: Bersot says since then, they've been trying to find out why the Turks have low HDL levels. This is just as important an indicator of heart disease risk as LDL, or ‘bad' cholesterol.

Bersot: There are several genes that have been associated in Turkish people that are associated with HDL levels that we are looking at and we think that the problem is they have over-exuberant removal of HDL from the blood by the liver.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.