Researchers have found that low blood cholestrol may stimulate impulsive and extreme behaviour that may result in people dying from harming themselves. A team from St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, compared 75 patients admitted to the hospital with self-attained injuries, including drug overdoses, with psychiatric patients and patients not suffering from any mental health problems.
The patients were rated on their level of depression, impulsivity and suicidal intent. It was found that cholesterol levels in the patients who had deliberately harmed themselves were significantly low when comapred to the other patients. Cholesterol levels were also low in all patients who were rated as being impulsive.
Lead researcher Dr Malcolm Garland said cholesterol was linked to the transmission of serotonin, an important brain chemical responsible for the control of mood and emotion. "Cholesterol is an extremely important component of the brain, especially of the nerve cell membranes," he said. "It makes sense that if you have got a high or low level of cholestrol that might influence the way the nerve cells work." Dr Garland said impulsivity stimulated by low cholesterol levels could be responsible for many types of dangerous behavior.