Cholesterol and Health title


Low blood cholesterol increases infections and deaths in surgical patients

Part 3

Many patients in hospitals have or acquire infections during or after major abdominal surgery.

The Department of Surgery at the Catholic University, Rome, Italy, conducted a study to identify factors that influenced mortality in patients who are affected by such infections.[1]

The hospital records of patients who had had a variety of abdominal operations and who had acquired an infection such as peritonitis were reviewed. Checking deaths against a battery of blood measurements, the authors of the study found that low cholesterol levels and low protein levels were both 'strongly and independently associated with the outcome'.

Dr Uffe Ravnskov found that:

'There is much evidence that blood lipids play a key role in the immune defence system. Bacterial endotoxin and Staphylococcus aureus a-toxin bind rapidly to and become inactivated by low-density-lipoprotein (LDL).'[2]
(Staphylococcus aureus is what the 'SA' in MRSA stands for.)

Ravnskov also pointed out that
'Total cholesterol is inversely associated with mortality caused by respiratory and digestive disease, the aetiologies of which are mostly infectious. Total cholesterol is also inversely associated with the risk of being admitted to hospital because of an infectious disease.'
In other words, if you have low cholesterol, firstly, you are more likely to end up in hospital and, secondly, you are more likely to contract an infection while you are there.

1. Pacelli F, Doglietto GB, Alfieri S, et al. Prognosis in intra-abdominal infections. Multivariate analysis on 604 patients. Arch Surg 1996; 131: 641-5.
2. Ravnskov U. High Cholesterol May Protect Against Infections and Atherosclerosis. Quart J Med 2003; 96: 927-34.

Part 1: Immunity | Part 2: Hospital Infections -1 | Part 3: Hospital Infections -2

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Last updated 13 November 2009

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