Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Cholesterol May Help Build Muscle

February 6, 2008

This medical news about health and wellness is brought to you as a service from Dr Steven Horvitz and The Institute for Medical Wellness.

Cholesterol May Help Build Muscle

Low cholesterol levels may be good for your heart, but cholesterol levels that are too low may negate exercise-related muscle gain, says a Texas A&M University study of 50 men and women, ages 60 to 69.

Participants took part in a 12-week exercise program that included stretching, riding a stationary bike and weightlifting. They all ate similar meals, CBC News reported.

The most impressive gains in muscle strength occurred in those with the highest cholesterol levels, rather than those with the lowest levels.

The study authors said cholesterol may play an important role in muscle tissue repair, which is critical in building muscle mass, CBC News reported.

"As you exercise, your muscles can become sore because they are rebuilding muscle mass. More cholesterol may result in a more robust inflammatory response. We know that inflammation in some areas, such as near the heart, is not good, but for building muscles it may be beneficial, and cholesterol appears to aid in this process," lead investigator Steven Riechman, assistant professor of health and kineisiology at Texas A&M, said in a prepared statement.

The study was published in the Journal of Gerontology.

The hypothesis that cholesterol is bad for your health and should be lowered at all costs is starting to unravel. As many of my patients know, I have not been a fan of cholesterol lowering medications. I view cholesterol as a marker for human health and disease, but not as a cause of disease.

Cholesterol is made by our body, in our liver, whether we eat cholesterol and fat in our diets or not. Obviously cholesterol must have some positive actions in our bodies. The article you just read appears to be one positive action. Hopefully in the near future more medical studies will be conducted and published showing more beneficial actions of cholesterol.

Achieving good cholesterol levels is important. But how you achieve those levels is more important. Using medications to improve your cholesterol levels is like painting a car with a rusty engine. The cholesterol and paint will look wonderful, but the car engine, heart and vascular system do not always benefit. A good analysis of cholesterol lowering medications was written and appears in Business Week magazine, Jan 28, 2008 edition.

I would like to provide a link to another site that reviews cholesterol lowering treatments with a slightly different analysis than you usually hear on the news. I am providing this link as fuel for thought and I would welcome any comment or feedback.

Steven Horvitz, D.O.
Board Certified Family Medicine
Your Partner in Health!

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