Cholesterol       14th July 2001
Necessary for healthy body and not villain

By HAMA, Rokuro
Chairman: NPO Japan Institute of Pharmacovigilance

It seems that the lowest limit of “high cholesterol” will be changed from 220 to 240. Even this revised level may be too low according to my analysis, unless one has any risk factors for heart attack, such as high blood pressure, smoking, obesity or diabetes.

“Cholesterol” is often thought as a typical villain causing atherosclerosis. But it is not true. Cholesterol is one of the most important "lipids" which is one of three major nutrients. So it is important for a healthy body to grow and maintain.

The minimum unit of human body is a cell. The cell is covered with thin film called membrane, and contains many components made by these films in it. These membranes are made from cholesterol together with other type of lipids such as phospholipids and protein. A nerve is a long fiber made from rich of these membranes.

 Mother's milk (especially the first milk) and eggs contain a lot of cholesterol.

It is because cholesterol is inevitable for the growth of baby's nerves and immune systems, and is also necessary for eggs' hatching out as a whole baby bird.

And five important hormones, such as corticosteroids and sex hormones are also made from cholesterol.

If your blood cholesterol levels become too low, your cells may not work actively, and your blood vessels and tissues may weaken. And finally you may have cerebral hemorrhage, your immune system becomes compromised, and you may become liable to have infectious diseases and cancer.

Especially, many evidences have been reported recently that indicate incidence of cancer is inversely related to blood cholesterol level.

The reason why Europeans and Americans fear cholesterol is because the major cause of death is heart attack in these countries. But only 8 percents of Japanese aged fifty to seventy-four die of heart attack, while 44 percents die of cancer.

If your blood cholesterol level becomes more than 300, of course cholesterol may crystallize on your blood vessels, and it may cause heart attack or gallstones.

Taking these evidences into account, cholesterol level above 280 could influence as a cause of death. Some epidemiological studies show that a person whose level is 220_280 (or 240_260), lives longest.

I think it’s not necessary to lessen your cholesterol level under 280 by drug or by other means, unless you have any other risk factors of heart attack,

You also need be careful about your method of diet. It is no use taking more carbohydrates in order to avoid cholesterol, because excess sugar (carbohydrates) will be synthesized into neutral fat and/or cholesterol. To make matters worse by such a method of diet, you will lack protein.

It is at most important that you avoid excess intake of food, but maintain a well-balanced diet, and do a proper amount of exercise.

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