Can your cholesterol be too low ? Many of my patients recall old news reports of studies that linked very low cholesterol with liver cancer, lung disease, depression, alcoholism and suicide.
The latest studies shows that a low cholesterol may be associated with cancer, but does not cause it. Before a person develops the symptoms of cancer, he often loses interest in eating and loses weight, which causes his cholesterol to drop.
The most famous study on the effects of cholesterol on health is the huge Framingham study, which tested blood cholesterol levels were tested every two years. The researchers showed that cholesterols started to fall up to 8 years prior to a person dying of cancer, and that those with the greatest fall in cholesterol in a 4 years period were those who were most likely to develop cancer.
A study from Russia showed that men who have low blood cholesterol levels are more likely to drink, are much thinner and have far less education than men with normal cholesterol levels. Drinking heavily and getting into accidents caused both the low cholesterol and the early deaths. Lung disease, alcoholism, certain types of cancers and many other illnesses suppress appetite, so people eat less, causing their blood cholesterol levels to drop significantly.
There is no evidence that a low blood cholesterol causes you to die early. If you have a low blood cholesterol level, your doctor could check you for a hidden cancer, addiction to alcohol, cigarettes or drugs, emotional disorder or other disease. If none is found, you should be delighted and usually can expect to live a long time.
On the other hand, if your cholesterol is high, you should worry because you are at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke. Follow your doctor's recommendations for changing your diet and starting an exercise program. If those lifestyle changes are not enough, you may need medication.