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Healthy Heart Reports

Can Your Cholesterol Be Too Low?

Most studies show that people who live the longest have blood cholesterol levels between 211 and 250 (1), which is considered too high by many doctors.

Almost everyone agrees that having high blood cholesterol levels above 250 shorten your life and markedly increase your chances of suffering a heart attack. Most studies also show that people with very low cholesterol are at increased risk for cancer of the stomach, esophagus, liver and colon, but it looks like the incubating cancers cause the low cholesterol, rather than a low cholesterol causes the cancers.

Since long-term infections of any sort lower cholesterol, it may be that people who have chronic infections have lower cholesterol and the chronic infection shortens their lives, not the lowered cholesterol (2). The safest cholesterol appears to be between 165 and 250. Cholesterol values below 165 and above 250 are associated with a shortened life span.

1) YM Song, J Sung, JS Kim. Which cholesterol level is related to the lowest mortality in a population with low mean cholesterol level: A 6.4-year follow-up study of 482,472 Korean men. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2000, Vol 151, Iss 8, pp 739-747. Address: Song YM, Sung Kyun Kwan Univ, Samsung Med Ctr, Dept Family Med, Sch Med, 50 Ilweondong, Seoul 135230, SOUTH KOREA.

2) DR Jacobs, C Iribarren. Invited commentary: Low cholesterol and nonatherosclerotic disease risk: A persistently perplexing question. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2000, Vol 151, Iss 8, pp 748-751 Address Jacobs DR, Univ Minnesota, Div Epidemiol, Minneapolis,MN 55455 USA


Copyright 2000
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.

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