Top 5 Reasons to Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels

2009-04-26 | |
Last updated: 2009-04-26

While we often think of the word cholesterol as something nasty, cholesterol is a necessary part of our bodies that has sadly earned a very bad rap. Those with a bit of knowledge on cholesterol will understand the difference between HDL, the “good” cholesterol, and LDL its dark “evil” counterpart. LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein gets its reputation for hanging out in the bloodstream and doing nothing except causing trouble when too much is present. HDL or High Density Lipoprotein, on the other hand, is the “good guy” that rounds up excess LDL and takes it back to the liver to be processed.

While an oversimplified view of cholesterol has given it this bad name, in reality, neither HDL nor LDL cholesterol is inherently bad. The two types serve as fundamental building blocks for our bodies. The problem lies in maintaining the correct levels of cholesterol in our systems. In other words, when we have too much or too little of a good thing we get into trouble. What sorts of trouble can we get into with incorrect cholesterol levels? Have a look at the following 5:

1) Atherosclerosis and Coronary Heart Disease

As one of the fundamental reasons why doctors monitor cholesterol levels, its hardly surprising to see atherosclerosis in this list. Along with aging, high LDL cholesterol levels in our blood increase the rate at which plaque builds up on our artery walls, hardening them and slowly reducing the blood flow possible through the artery. Atherosclerosis is something that most people with the condition won’t even notice until they finally experience heart pains or a heart attack because too little oxygen is reaching the heart.

2) Stroke

Another fundamental reason why doctors try to beat into our heads the need for proper cholesterol levels is the risk for stroke. Now, because all strokes are not caused by the same reasons, its important to note that cholesterol increases the chance of stroke for the same reason it increases the risk of heart failure and that is blockage of arteries. If a blockage occurs on route to the heart, you can get a heart attack whereas a blockage on route to the brain causes a stroke. Like coronary heart disease, a stroke of this type can occur with little prior warning.

3) Prostate Cancer

One other way in which high cholesterol levels are dangerous is their relation to prostate cancer. Research studies have found that those who develop prostate cancer were 50% more likely to have had high cholesterol levels. At the same time, other researchers have found that high cholesterol levels increase the growth rate of prostate tumors, thus decreasing the chances for successful treatment. Whether you want to avoid prostate cancer altogether or reduce its potential to be deadly, it makes sense to keep the cholesterol levels in check.

4) Testicular Cancer

A lesser known effect of high cholesterol is the increased risk of testicular cancer. Researchers have found that those with high cholesterol levels have 4.5 times the risk of developing testicular cancer over those with healthy levels. Although highly curable as a cancer, nobody should be seeking a fight by increasing their risks.

5) Alzheimer’s Disease

Last, but not least, high cholesterol has been associated with an increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers, who studied almost 10 thousand people over a 13 year period found that those with high cholesterol levels had 1.5 times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s over those with normal cholesterol levels. With these kinds of numbers and the complete loss of one’s identity that can come with Alzheimer’s, control of cholesterol levels seems all the more important.

While some may point out that Diabetes has been left off the list, it is only because more information is required to understand what causes what in this situation as the latest research suggests that Diabetes can mess with cholesterol levels while high cholesterol is often a precursor to high cholesterol.

What’s a person to do about this information? Go to your doctor, get your cholesterol levels monitored, eat right, get regular exercise and if the doctor says so, take your medications.

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