Doctors have long warned about the health hazards of high cholesterol but a growing body of evidence indicates that very low cholesterol can be dangerous too. Low cholesterol levels have been associated with depression, anxiety, violent behavior, suicide and hemorrhagic stroke.
Fat absorption requires the presence of bile as an emulsifier. Both a very low fat diet and poor bile flow can work to keep cholesterol levels lower than they should be. Thinning the bile can help raise low cholesterol levels.
A study of 121 healthy young women found that those with low cholesterol levels – below 160mg/dl – were more likely to score high on measures of depression and anxiety than women with normal or high cholesterol levels. Normal cholesterol levels are considered to fall within the range of 180mg/dl to 200mg/dl. There is now a compelling body of evidence in both men and women that low cholesterol is a potential predictor for depression and anxiety in certain individuals. [Psychosomatic Medicine, May 1999]
Data from more than 300 peer-reviewed medical reports showed that men with blood cholesterol levels below 160mg/dl tended to be the victims of homicide, suicide or fatal accidents 50-80% more often than those with the highest levels of cholesterol. The statistics for women showed a similar increase of 30%. The author of the review said that there may be a possible link between low cholesterol and a reduction in the brain chemical serotonin. Individuals with low serotonin levels are known to be more likely to commit suicide, especially by violent means, as well as homicide.
Researchers have found that as cholesterol levels drop, the risk of hemorrhagic stroke (accounting for 20% of strokes) increased significantly. A person with a cholesterol level below 180mg/dl had twice the risk of that type of stroke when compared with someone at a level of 230mg/dl.
A chronically low serum cholesterol level can be an unsuspected problem. Since cholesterol is the precursor to the adrenal and sex steroids, low levels may mean an insufficient supply of raw material for hormone production. When there are indications of hormone insufficiency, appropriate lab testing should be conducted.
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