High cholesterol level is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. But low cholesterol in combination with low levels of the protein albumin in the blood may indicate a high risk of decline and death in elderly people. Since both cholesterol and albumin are measured on standard blood tests, the two markers could help determine which senior citizens are at greatest risk for health problems.
In a 7-year period, those with low cholesterol and albumin had 3.5 times the risk of dying, the investigators found. The risk of functional decline -- such as the ability to do housework or walk up and down stairs -- was also greater in people with a combination of low albumin and cholesterol compared with those with normal cholesterol and albumin levels.
What we are beginning to find more and more is that people who have low cholesterol probably have some kind of low grade or subclinical inflammation. Low albumin in the blood can be an indicator of malnutrition, and possibly related to infection, inflammation, stress due to surgery, trauma, or liver or kidney disease.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society April 1999;47:402-406.
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
It is important to have normal cholesterol levels of around 200 (300 during pregnancy). If your cholesterol level is much lower than this, you are clearly at risk for chronic illnesses, like cancer.
The absolute level of cholesterol level has very little to do with your risk of heart disease. As I have mentioned in previous newsletters, the ratio of HDL/Total Cholesterol is much more powerful. Ideally, it should be above 25. Numbers in the 30s or even 40s are much better but not always possible for most people.
The triglyceride(fasting)/Total Cholesterol level should also be below 2.0. Nearly everyone should be able to normalize this number as it nearly exclusively related to an excess in grains and sugars. Many people ignore the value of albumin. Ideally, it should be above 4.5. Levels below 4.0 are a serious problem.
Swimming in the ocean (not lake or pool) twice a day is one of the best ways to raise the level.
However, most of us can not do that so the advanced hygiene system I describe in my more articles section on my web site is a useful alternative for many.