A new study shows cholesterol levels may be higher in colder months. So if you're worried about your cholesterol levels, you might want to go get them checked now rather than wait till the fall or winter.
Researchers examined the issue in a study involving about 500 otherwise healthy men and women. All the participants had their cholesterol checked on a quarterly basis over the year. Average total cholesterol was 222 milligrams/deciliter for the men in the study and 213 milligrams/deciliter for the women. Cholesterol levels increased by 3.9 milligrams/deciliter for men, with a peak in December, and 5.4 milligrams/deciliter for women, with a peak in January. The seasonal differences were even greater for people with known high cholesterol.
Based on the seasonal differences, the researchers report about 22 percent more of the participants would have been identified as having high cholesterol -- defined as 240 milligrams/deciliter or greater -- in the winter vs. the summer.
The question to be answered is why would cholesterol be lower in the summer than in the winter? Researchers say warmer weather results in a greater volume of blood plasma, which in turn may dilute cholesterol in the blood resulting in lower cholesterol concentrations. The tendency people have to be more active in the summer probably plays a role as well.