Is there a connection between HDL cholesterol and macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration can cause severe visual impairment in people over the age of 40. Researchers have now found that so-called healthy HDL cholesterol can increase the risk of serious eye disease.
The University of Queensland scientists found in their current study that HDL cholesterol increases the risk of macular degeneration (a group of diseases of the retina of the eye). The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Nature Communications".
Researchers analyze the data from around 400,000 subjects
In their study, the experts examined the relationships between changeable health risks and common diseases. To do this, they evaluated the data from various large-scale studies, which included around 400,000 subjects. The researchers found that HDL cholesterol increases the risk of eye diseases.
Relationship to disease risks examined
The scientists assessed seven modifiable health factors such as the body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol and their associations with 30 common diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The study found that a certain type of cholesterol is a possible risk factor for age-related macular degeneration, explains the author Professor Jian Yang from the University of Queensland.
Does HDL cholesterol protect human health?
The study author explains that it was previously believed that HDL cholesterol was good for health and protected the heart. However, the new results have shown that it has a rather negative impact, adds Professor Yang. Some people take medication or supplements to raise their HDL cholesterol levels. However, the results of the study clearly show that HDL has no real protective effect and that a high HDL cholesterol level also appears to increase the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, the doctor says.
LDL cholesterol protects against type 2 diabetes
The results also indicate the possible side effects of drugs that target cholesterol to reduce the likelihood of a heart attack, added Professor Yang. People used to think that so-called LDL cholesterol was a risk factor for a heart attack and the results confirmed that. But it also offers protection against type 2 diabetes, the researchers explain. So if a drug is developed that lowers the LDL level to reduce the risk of heart disease, it also increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. If people take medication to lower their LDL cholesterol, the side effect will be that they may develop type 2 diabetes.
Results suggest new goals for future research
The study found 45 potentially causal relationships between health risk factors and diseases, some of which had previously been identified in previous studies. Some of these relationships, such as the link between BMI and type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, have already been demonstrated in randomized controlled trials, which confirms the methods of the current study, explains the author Professor Yang. Other correlations identified in this study form a goal for future studies and expand the basic knowledge to better understand various diseases, according to the study authors. (as)