‘Good’ Cholesterol Is Not Always a Good Thing

Published:August 3rd, 2010

ScienceDaily — Weight loss efforts are most of the time centered on dieting with ‘good’ cholesterol, but a study finds that too much good cholesterol may translate to recurring coronary complications, like heart attack, chest pains, even death.

This study does not implicate however that bad cholesterol can be healthy for those who really need to lose weight.

A journal of American Heart Association has published the disappointing results noting a Pfizer drug Torcetrapib, which increases the HDL cholesterol or the “good” cholesterol, had their on-going clinical trials halted in 2006 due to the excessive reports of cardiovascular complications and death. Reasons were not elaborated, but the supposedly blockbuster drug indeed caused a lot of complications. It was discovered however that the cardiovascular events and death were caused by higher than normal levels of “good” HDL cholesterol which the manufacturers thought could be protective. It only increased cardiovascular risks.

Charles Sparks, M.D., professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and co-author of the study, further highlighted the importance of identifying the groups of people who should be excluded in efforts to raise HDL cholesterol – and this is to find out if raising HDL cholesterol levels can still be effective in reducing coronary risks.

Research authors propose that environmental factors and genetics play an important role determining whether high HDL cholesterols levels can be good or bad. When inflammation happens, a person’s unique genetic profile will determine if a high HDL cholesterol level will lessen or heighten heart disease risks. This also includes the obese population, and those who need to lose weight for medical purposes.

“In a way, this helps us achieve the need for personalized medicine. If an overweight/obese person loses weight but raises their HDL cholesterol in the process, it may do more harm than good,” authors conclude.

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