Cholesterol: A ‘strong’ genetic link found between anorexia and high-density lipoprotein

Such a notion was proposed by experts who conducted a systematic review and analysis, which was published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. The researchers found that there were elevated lipid levels in acutely ill anorexia nervosa patients compared to healthy controls. Elevated cholesterol even remained “after partial weight restoration”.

The authors noted: “This could signal an underlying adaptation or dysregulation not fully reversed by weight restoration.”

Anorexia nervosa

The NHS explained anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder and a “serious mental health condition”.

People who have the condition will try to keep their weight as low as possible by restricting food intake and exercising too much.

“This can make them very ill because they start to starve,” the NHS added.

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“They often have a distorted image of their bodies, thinking they’re fat even when they’re underweight.”

Signs of anorexia nervosa

  • Unusually low body mass index (BMI)
  • Missing meals, eating very little, or avoiding food
  • Believing you’re fat when you’re a healthy weight or underweight
  • Taking appetite suppressant
  • Not having periods when of menstruating age
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin.

“Some people with anorexia may also make themselves sick [or] do an extreme amount of exercise,” the NHS noted.

People might use laxatives or diuretics to stop them gaining weight from the foods they do eat.

Treatment for anorexia might include talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Left untreated, issues can develop throughout the body, such as kidney or bowel problems.

Other health risks include fertility issues, weakened bones more at risk of fractures, and seizures.

In some cases, anorexia can become life-threatening due to physical complications.

What about cholesterol and anorexia nervosa?

Additional research, printed in the National Library of Medicine, also found a “strong” link between anorexia and cholesterol.

However, the eating disorder was associated with elevated high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

While having more HDL cholesterol can be helpful in removing “bad” low-density lipoprotein, in this context, having anorexia nervosa is unhealthy in itself.

The Eating Disorder Foundation warned that having anorexia can force the body to go into “survival mode”.

As such, important functions in the body are slowed down to conserve energy.

“The consequences are dangerous and can be fatal,” the experts emphasised.

People suffering from anorexia nervosa can contact the eating disorder charity, Beat, by calling the adult helpline on: 0808 801 0677.

Beat also offers a helpline for younger people, who can reach out on: 0808 801 0711.

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