If you’ve been told your cholesterol levels are getting high, it could be more to do with the time of year when they were checked. ‘Bad’ LDL cholesterol rises dramatically during the winter—possibly triggering a prescription for statin drugs—and then comes down to safe levels in the summer months.
The fact that HDL and LDL cholesterol levels fluctuate between the seasons has been discovered by Brazilian researchers this week, who reckon the differences could be even greater in Northern Europe and North America, where the winters are colder.
Even in the mild winters of Brazil, LDL cholesterol levels can rise to levels high enough to put hundreds of thousands of people onto statin therapy—and yet, by the summer, those levels have returned to normal, and levels of HDL ‘good’ cholesterol have gone up.
Researchers from the State University of Campinas in Brazil made the discovery when they assessed cholesterol levels of 227,359 people over a two-year period. Levels of LDL cholesterol rose by an average of 7mg/dL during the winter, and which pushed 8 per cent of people to levels that would justify a statin drug.
(Source: American College of Cardiology 62nd annual scientific session, March 7, 2013).