Low Cholesterol Linked to Violence
January 02, 2008
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Lowering cholesterol could trigger changes in brain chemistry that encourage violent behavior, according to a report. Dozens of studies support a connection between low or lowered cholesterol levels and adverse violent outcomes in certain populations. Cholesterol levels directly affect the activity of serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter implicated in the control of violent behaviors. It is possible that lowered cholesterol levels may lead to lowered brain serotonin activity; this may, in turn, lead to increased violence.
Many studies seem to support the existence of a cholesterol-violence relationship. One 1992 analysis, published in the journal Circulation, looked at 18 different study groups and "found 50% more violent deaths in men with cholesterol levels less than 160 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) than in the group with the highest cholesterol levels. A 1996 French study of nearly 6,400 men, published in the British Medical Journal, also found that a low average cholesterol was linked to subsequent death by suicide.
Studies in monkeys may support such a relationship. Two separate studies conducted in the early 1990's revealed that monkeys assigned to diets low in fat or cholesterol showed significantly lower brain serotonin activity. Finally, three separate neurological studies (in 1989, 1990, and 1994) agreed that in humans, low brain serotonin is linked to increased impulsive violence, including homicide, arson, and suicide.
Annals of Internal Medicine (1998;128(6):478-487);
The Journal of the American Medical Association (1997;278:313-321)
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
This is a wonderful reminder that we need to have optimum levels for our biochemistry. There is tremendous confusion regarding this fact in traditional medical circles. I must admit that I was also confused about this and it adversely affected my own health. My cholesterol was 85 for many years.
This is a very dangerous number, but I, like many doctors today, was convinced that the lower one's cholesterol the better. I have since nearly doubled my cholesterol level. The optimum number is about 200.
One also needs to examine the relationship between HDL and LDL to determine cardiac risk status. Ideally, you should have more than 30% good cholesterol (HDL/total cholesterol). If the percentage is less than 20%, the risk is clearly elevated and if it less than 10%, a heart attack is absolutely inevitable without serious intervention. Percentages between 30-40% are excellent and over 40% virtually assures immunity from heart attacks.
However, the other disadvantage of a low cholesterol is that cholesterol is the major building blocks for all your steroid hormones. The body converts cholesterol to pregnenolone which is considered to be the "mother" hormone.
Pregnenolone is then converted to other hormones such as progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, cortisol, and dozens of other critical hormones. If your cholesterol is low, these hormones will also be low. I suspect that the low hormone concentration is even more important than the alteration of the serotonin levels.