Dr. Weeks’ Comment: In addition to the shocking studies which demonstrate that low cholesterol is dangerous for people fighting cancer (yes – you read that right: people with cancer who also have higher levels of cholesterol do better.
Low Cholesterol May Affect Mood
Levels of cholesterol and other fatty molecules in the blood may have an impact on mood and aggression, according to a new study. Studies have shown that male psychiatric patients with low cholesterol (below160 mg/dl) are twice as likely to attempt suicide, and elderly men with low cholesterol are three times as likely to be depressed. And studies in animals have found that monkeys fed a diet low in fat and cholesterol are more aggressive than those fed a normal diet.
The theory is that cholesterol level may influence serotonin, the neurotransmitter in the brain that has been linked to depression. However, it’s not yet clear if the low cholesterol actually causes the depression or aggression, or if some other health factor is responsible for both low cholesterol and changes in mood swings.
Psychiatric Services (1997;48:875-876)
Low Cholesterol Linked to Depression
Results of a study conducted by Dutch researchers provide additional evidence for a link between low cholesterol levels and an increased risk of depression in men. Investigators measured serum cholesterol levels in some 30,000 men, as part of a large screening program.
They compared the presence of depressive symptoms, anger, hostility, and impulsivity in these men, to men with cholesterol levels in the normal range. They found that men with chronically low cholesterol levels showed a consistently higher risk of having depressive symptoms.
Cholesterol may affect the metabolism of serotonin, a substance known to be involved in the regulation of mood as the researchers have previously shown that serotonin levels are also reduced in men with low levels of cholesterol.
Psychosomatic Medicine 2000;62.
Low Cholesterol Linked to Stroke Risk
High cholesterol is a well-known risk factor for stroke. But new research suggests that low levels of cholesterol in the blood may also increase stroke risk. The study linking low cholesterol to increased stroke risk was presented recently at the 24th American Heart Association Conference on Stroke and Cerebral Circulation which was discussed in last week’s newsletter. About 80% of all strokes are ischemic, and 20% are hemorrhagic.
The researchers compared the cholesterol levels of the stroke patients to 3,700 other people in the Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound who had not had a stroke. They found that as an individual’s cholesterol level rose above 230 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL), their risk of ischemic stroke increased. For example, a person with a cholesterol level of 280 mg/dL had twice the risk of ischemic stroke as a person with 230 mg/dL.
But the researchers also found that as cholesterol dropped, the risk of -hemorrhagic stroke increased significantly. A person with a cholesterol level below 180 mg/dL had twice the risk of that type of stroke compared with someone at 230 mg/dL.
About 10% of the population have cholesterol levels below 180 mg/dL. It is not clear if the cholesterol is indeed the cause of the stroke, or related to some other cardiovascular factor that is responsible. High cholesterol levels probably increase blockages.
The theory with low cholesterol is that it is necessary to maintain integrity of the vessel wall. Low levels of cholesterol might lead to “leaky vessels.” The Japanese have typically low cholesterol levels and a higher than average rate of hemorrhagic stroke.
DR. MERCOLA’S COMMENT:
It is encouraging to find some evidence (although not yet published) that shows that low cholesterol is a problem. I believe the optimum cholesterol is about 200. Levels below 180 appear to be a problem. Levels under 150 are a major dilemma. I am an expert in low cholesterol as my levels have been as low as 85.
I was trained in the “low fat” craze and I am sure I did some serious damage to my body trying to stay healthy. However, for the last seven years I had tried to raise it and was unable to get it above 135.Two weeks ago I was able to get it up to 175! For the last two months I have been using a supplement by Biotics that called Beta TCP that has whole beet concentrate and Taurine.
These items are very effective at thinning the bile in the gallbladder. Once the bile is thinned it can flow out and not remain in the gallbladder as sludge so it can emulsify the fat so we can absorb it. Trying to absorb fat without bile is like trying to wash greasy dishes without soap. It does not work very well at all. I am fairly convinced that most people with low cholesterol levels are due to a dysfunctional gallbladder.
Folks it took me SEVEN years to find someone who could teach me that piece of information. It is one of the best things I learned last year. Traditional medicine has no clue about how to treat this problem. There solution is to remove ONE MILLION gallbladders a year. I believe this is criminal malpractice. If a person is treated early enough, this operation is RARELY needed.
To add insult to injury, the surgeon does not even suggest that these patients take bile salts to help them digest their fats. If you know anyone who has had their gallbladder removed, you could greatly benefit them by telling them they need bile salts with EVERY meal for the rest of their life.
This will contribute greatly to their long term health. I use a product called Beta Plus from Biotics for this, but there are others that will work.
LOW CHOLESTEROL LINKED TO VIOLENCE
Lowering cholesterol could trigger changes in brain chemistry that encourage violent behavior, according to a report. Dozens of studies support a connection between low or lowered cholesterol levels and adverse violent outcomes in certain populations. Cholesterol levels directly affect the activity of serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter implicated in the control of violent behaviors. It is possible that lowered cholesterol levels may lead to lowered brain serotonin activity; this may, in turn, lead to increased violence.
Many studies seem to support the existence of a cholesterol-violence relationship. One 1992 analysis, published in the journal Circulation, looked at 18 different study groups and “found 50% more violent deaths in men with cholesterol levels less than 160 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) than in the group with the highest cholesterol levels. A 1996 French study of nearly 6,400 men, published in the British Medical Journal, also found that a low average cholesterol was linked to subsequent death by suicide.
Studies in monkeys may support such a relationship. Two separate studies conducted in the early 1990’s revealed that monkeys assigned to diets low in fat or cholesterol showed significantly lower brain serotonin activity. Finally, three separate neurological studies (in 1989, 1990, and 1994) agreed that in humans, low brain serotonin is linked to increased impulsive violence, including homicide, arson, and suicide.
Annals of Internal Medicine (1998;128(6):478-487);
The Journal of the American Medical Association (1997;278:313-321)
DR. MERCOLA’S COMMENT:
This is a wonderful reminder that we need to have optimum levels for our biochemistry. There is tremendous confusion regarding this fact in traditional medical circles. I must admit that I was also confused about this and it adversely affected my own health. My cholesterol was 85 for many years.
This is a very dangerous number, but I, like many doctors today, was convinced that the lower one’s cholesterol the better. I have since nearly doubled my cholesterol level. The optimum number is about 200.
One also needs to examine the relationship between HDL and LDL to determine cardiac risk status. Ideally, you should have more than 30% good cholesterol (HDL/total cholesterol). If the percentage is less than 20%, the risk is clearly elevated and if it less than 10%, a heart attack is absolutely inevitable without serious intervention. Percentages between 30-40% are excellent and over 40% virtually assures immunity from heart attacks.
However, the other disadvantage of a low cholesterol is that cholesterol is the major building blocks for all your steroid hormones. The body converts cholesterol to pregnenolone which is considered to be the “mother” hormone.
Pregnenolone is then converted to other hormones such as progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, cortisol, and dozens of other critical hormones. If your cholesterol is low, these hormones will also be low. I suspect that the low hormone concentration is even more important than the alteration of the serotonin levels.