Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is low cholesterol bad?"
I was told today that I have extremely low cholesterol with a total of 109. I am waiting to hear the break down of HDL and LDL so I do not have that right now. In August 2011 I had my cholesterol tested with LDL at 39, HDL at 75, total at 129. At the time I was told that was normal and didn't think twice about it. Now after looking into this I realize its low. I am 25 / female / 115lbs / don't smoke or drink / eat a balanced diet / workout and active. What could be wrong?
The levels of cholesterol that are found in the bloodstream are a function of both your genetic background as well as our lifestyle. For example, people whose parents have high cholesterol levels or lower cholesterol levels are predisposed to have the same patterns themselves. Furthermore, smoking and drinking are both associated with elevated cholesterol levels, whereas healthy diet and exercise will lower your cholesterol levels. In conclusion, therefore, the fact that you do not smoke or drink and that you eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly are all probably contributing to your lower cholesterol levels. It is also possible that your genetic background is contributing to your low cholesterol levels. Generally speaking, low cholesterol is protective against heart disease, especially when your "good cholesterol" component (HDL) is a large fraction of the total cholesterol, as is your case. There are really no adverse affects of having low cholesterol levels, at least none that have been clearly confirmed by good scientific studies. I would certainly suggest that you discuss the issue with your primary care doctor; he or she may well tell you that you have nothing to worry about!
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