Cholesterol has an extremely important function in the body but it has become a word in which people seem to fear. This should not be the case. With the right diet and adequate exercise Cholesterol can be managed with ease and without the use of potentially harmful medications. Just remember that everyone is individual and an informed choice should be made in these matters. have put together a little bit of information to get you all started.
High cholesterol is the result of declining hormones. To a certain extent this statement is true but there are also many other contributing factors to high cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a sterol, and is classed as a steroid.
Cholesterol is needed in order produce bile salts, vitamin D, saponins, cardiac glycosides, steroid adrenal hormones, and sex hormones.
When sunlight or ultraviolet radiation is exposed to the skin, cholesterol is converted to active vitamin D.
Cholesterol facilitates fatty acid absorption in the intestines and their transportation in the blood by combining with them in the form of cholesterol esters, which is soluble and more emulsifying than the free fatty acid molecules. It can be synthesized from other tissues as well as in the liver from two-carbon compounds such as coenzyme A (Timberlake 2010).
Cholesterol is a precursor for bile acid and bile salts that emulsify and absorb lipids in the intestines and activate the lipase involved in fat digestion.
Cortisone, cortisol, aldosterone, and derivatives of corticosterone are all steroid adrenal hormones and needs cholesterol as a precursor for biosynthesis.
The same goes for sex hormones. Male sex hormones or androgens are responsible for secondary sex characteristics of men, and begin at puberty. Female sex hormones or oestrogens and progestins are also responsible for secondary sex characteristics in females, as well as ensuring a normal menstrual cycle.
A high intake of saturated fats in the diet can lead to high Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. Being overweight or obese and having a low physical activity level lead to an increase in triglycerides as a result of excess adipose tissue leading to high levels of LDL. Age, gender and genetic predisposition are all factor when it comes to the cause of high cholesterol.
In 2010 the National Institute of Health found that HDL levels rose with the rise of oestrogen levels during the female 28 day reproductive cycle and LDL as well as triglyceride level decreased. Females produce more oestrogen than their male counterparts which is why males in the age group of 30-50 years are more likely to suffer from high cholesterol than females (Melmed et al 2011). Yet once females hit menopause oestrogen levels decline and become less consistent which is why females in the 50 years plus age group start to develop a rise in cholesterol levels. Another study done by Nanda et al in 2003 also showed that oestrogen deficiency in postmenopausal females altered lipid metabolism negatively. As oestrogen levels declined so did HDL levels and an increase in LDL levels were shown (Nanda et al 2003). This research supports the statement that high cholesterol is the result of declining hormones. However it has been stated in previous studies that hormone levels on cholesterol have not be conclusive (Payne, Hales 2004).
Statins are also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, are a form of drug used to lower cholesterol levels. This is done by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase which has a part in the manufacturing of cholesterol in the liver. Through inhibiting HMA-CoA reductase the statins block the path of cholesterol synthesis in the liver. This is important as majority of the cholesterol circulating in the body is from internal manufacture as opposed to diet. When the liver stops producing cholesterol then blood serum levels of cholesterol begin to fall.
However there are some severe side effects to statins. An increase in the concentration of liver enzymes can be a result of taking statins, which can lead to liver damage.
Muscle issues have also been related to statin medications (Abd, Jacobson 2011). Most cases report muscle pain, but inflammation of muscles has been reported as well as the destruction of the muscle cells, or rhabdomyolysis, which can lead to kidney damage.
An increased risk of diabetes can be associated with statin medications as well as the loss of cognitive function, neuropathy, sexual dysfunction and pancreatic issues
But perhaps the most concerning issue with statin medications is the potential risk for altering hormone levels in both males and females. Cholesterol is essential as a precursor of female and male sex hormones, which are vital in the health and wellness of any individual. When statins inhibit HMA-CoA reductase this block the path of cholesterol synthesis in the liver which is vital for the production of these hormones. The irony is that with some of these hormones reduced such as oestrogen then LDL cholesterol levels can increase, leading to a vicious cycle of medications increases as well as the detrimental effects these type of medications can have over a long durations of time.
As we can see there is certainly evidence indicating that declining hormones can lead to high LDL cholesterol. In females, oestrogen plays a vital role in stabilising HDL levels particularly due to the fact that HDL levels rise and trough with the fluctuations of the oestrogen hormones during the female 28 day reproductive cycle (Nanda et al 2003). This is also evident with the increase in high cholesterol LDL levels in post- menopausal females when there is a notable decrease in some oestrogen levels.
Statins are a form of medication used to lower cholesterol by inhibiting cholesterol synthesis in the liver. This can be beneficial for high cholesterol sufferers however the risk can be severe and should always be weight up before commencing the drugs.