Cholesterol May Not Be so Bad After All

LDL (a.k.a "bad") cholesterol might increase muscle mass

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Most people have heard about good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, but what do you really know about it? Yeah, sure bad cholesterol is to blame at times for blocked arteries, but what else?

Researchers are suggesting that a certain amount of bad cholesterol is needed to gain more muscle mass. But can more bad cholesterol may lead to more muscle?

"Bad cholesterol may help increase muscle mass."

Steve Riechman from Department of Health and Kinesiology from Texas A&M and colleagues form University of Pittsburgh, Kent State University, the John Hopkins Weight Management Center and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine worked on this study.

Riechman and colleagues discovered potential benefits of a certain amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body. The study involved adults between the age of 60 and 69, who lead mostly inactive lifestyles.

Participants were required to take part in vigorous workouts. After reviewing results, the researchers found that the participants who gained the most muscle mass also had the highest levels of bad cholesterol.

Researchers suggest the results are so because everyone needs cholesterol, good and bad. LDLs purpose is to act as a warning signal to the body and provide cholesterol to vital tissues and organs.

Too much LDL will cause a bloackage in the arteries, but simply getting rid of all LDL will lead to death. The perception that LDL cholesterol is bad is not nessarily the correct perception.

Reichman adds, “[LDL] gives us warning signs. Is smoking the problem, is it diet, is it lack of exercise that a person’s cholesterol is too high? It plays a very useful role, does the job it was intended to do, and we need to back off by always calling it ‘bad’ cholesterol because it is not totally bad.”

The Study

  • 52 adults examined for study, ages 60-69
  • Measured muscle mass and cholesterol levels
  • Participants who gained most muscle mass also had highest LDL levels
  • LDL and HDL is needed in body to function properly
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 5, 2011
Last Updated:
May 10, 2011