Cholesterol level: Can it be too low?

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Cholesterol level: Can it be too low?

Question

Can your total cholesterol level be too low?

Warren
Illinois

Answer

A high blood cholesterol level increases your risk of coronary artery disease. Lower cholesterol is usually better, but in rare cases, having a low level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol or a low total cholesterol level could increase your risk of some health problems. Doctors are still trying to find out more about the connection between low cholesterol and health risks.

Although the risks are rare, low levels of LDL cholesterol may increase your risk of:

  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Preterm birth and low birth weight if your cholesterol is low while you're pregnant

Ideally, your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels should fall in these ranges:

  • Total cholesterol below 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
  • LDL cholesterol below 100 mg/dL (2.6 mmol/L) — or below 70 mg/dL (1.8 mmol/L) if you're at very high risk of heart disease

If you're concerned about your cholesterol level, consult your doctor. He or she can determine the cholesterol range most appropriate for you.

Last Updated: 2010-08-12
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