A new study, conducted by the University of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen University Hospital, has found a further link between cholesterol and the immune system. While high cholesterol is known for increasing the risk of heart disease, this new study has found that both low and high cholesterol can also increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as pneumonia. This research shows that cholesterol may have more of a role in all types of disease, not just cardiovascular health as previously thought.
The study measured the level of HDL cholesterol, which is often known as good cholesterol. The scientists found that patients with high and low levels of concentration of HDL cholesterol seemed to have a higher risk of hospitalisation from an infectious disease. Furthermore, these patients also had a higher risk of dying from an infectious disease.
The study found that those with very low concentrations of HDL cholesterol had a 75% higher risk of contracting an infectious disease. On the other hand, those with high levels of HDL have a 43% greater chance of contracting an infectious disease.
The link between HDL cholesterol and the immune system has been in discussion for a while. However, the study by the University of Copenhagen is the first to see the link between infectious disease and cholesterol. The study covered a general population in Copenhagen, with data from 100,000 patients. These patients were then followed for six years to see if there are any links or significant findings.
While the study is not able to establish a direct link, it has helped with further research on the role of HDL cholesterol in the body. Researchers should now expand their thinking on not just the significance of cholesterol with cardiovascular health, but also in other disease areas too.
Updated: January 22, 2024 CET
Updated: November 14, 2019 CET