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Cholesterol Levels Vary Across the Menstrual Cycle

More women classified as hyperlipidemic when tested in follicular phase

FRIDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Serum lipid levels are associated with endogenous estrogen levels in menstruating women, and vary throughout the cycle, according to research published online June 9 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Sunni L. Mumford, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill, and colleagues conducted a prospective study of 259 healthy, regularly menstruating women aged 18 to 44 to determine if serum lipid levels varied depending on stage of the menstrual cycle. Total, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides were measured up to eight times per menstrual cycle for one or two cycles.

The researchers found that levels of HDL cholesterol peaked when endogenous estrogens peaked, at mid-cycle. Total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides began to decline at mid-cycle, and were lowest just before onset of menstruation. More women were classified as having lipid levels above the desirable levels when tested in the follicular -- as opposed to the luteal -- phase of their cycle.

"Cyclic variations in lipoprotein cholesterol levels observed in the present study may have clinical implications regarding the appropriate timing of lipoprotein cholesterol measurement during the cycle and may need to be accounted for in the design and interpretation of studies in women of reproductive age," the authors write.

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