Food consumption during Christmas holiday may increase hypercholesterolemia risk
The levels of total cholesterol and LDL and the risk for hypercholesterolemia both increase after Christmas, according to findings published in Athersclerosis.
“Our study shows strong indications that cholesterol levels are influenced by the fatty food we consume when celebrating Christmas. The fact that so many people have high cholesterol readings straight after the Christmas holiday is very surprising,” Anne Langsted, MD, from the department of clinical biochemistry and the Copenhagen General Population Study at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital and Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, said in a press release.
The observational study consisted of 25,764 Danish participants, aged 20 to 100 years, from the Copenhagen General Population Study. The main outcomes were mean total cholesterol and LDL levels.
Covariates included BMI, self-reported diabetes, alcohol consumption, use of antidiabetic medication and smoking status. Participants with cholesterol-lowering therapy were excluded from the study.
Researchers analyzed cholesterol levels of participants (median age, 59 years; median total cholesterol, 205 mg/dL; mean LDL, 116 mg/dL) at various times throughout the year.
Langsted and colleagues identified a 15% increase in total cholesterol levels (P < .001) and 20% increase (P < .001) in LDL in December and January compared with May and June. There were higher odds of hypercholesterolemia (adjusted OR = 6; 95% CI, 4.2-8.5) in the participants tested in the first week of January. Of the participants who were tested in January, 77% had LDL levels greater than 116 mg/dL and 89% had total cholesterol levels greater than 193 mg/dL.
According to the researchers, the diagnosis of hypercholesterolemia should not be made around Christmas, and the results stress the need for re-testing patients later and before the initiation of cholesterol-lowering treatment.
“Future research may elucidate whether writing and reading these current results will be associated with decreased Christmas spirit due to self-inflicted dietary restrictions when celebrating future Christmas holidays,” Langsted and colleagues wrote. – by Earl Holland Jr.
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.