Does Testosterone make your Cholesterol High?
by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert
Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.
Did you know that cholesterol and testosterone levels are connected? While cholesterol is often associated with negative health outcomes, it actually plays an important role in the production of testosterone.
However, too much cholesterol can also have negative effects on testosterone levels. Read on to learn more about this surprising link and how to maintain healthy levels of both.
Understanding the role of cholesterol in the body
Cholesterol is a type of fat that is produced by the liver and is found in certain foods. It plays a crucial role in the body, including helping to build cell membranes and produce hormones like testosterone.
However, too much cholesterol can lead to health problems like heart disease. It’s important to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in the body to ensure proper bodily function.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an innocuous waxy substance found in all cells in your body, yet too much of it can lead to heart attacks and stroke.
Cholesterol comes from two sources: your liver and foods containing animal products.
However, your body requires cholesterol in order to function optimally. Vitamin D production, estrogen and testosterone hormone production as well as fat dissolving bile acids are made using cholesterol.
This could be because estrogen, a sex hormone that increases risk for cardiovascular disease in women, is produced using cholesterol.
Furthermore, cholesterol serves as a precursor for testosterone production, with low levels associated with lower libido in men.
Cholesterol plays an essential part of a healthy diet; eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains will help ensure you maintain normal cholesterol levels.
How does testosterone affect cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat found in blood. It serves many functions, from making hormones and building cell membranes, to transporting bile acids that aid digestion in your digestive tract.
But too much cholesterol may increase your risk for heart disease and other issues. That said it can be lowered naturally through diet and exercise.
In addition, medications are available that can help. If you suspect high cholesterol, it's essential that it's screened promptly so any problems can be identified and treated quickly.
Recent research suggests that low testosterone is linked to higher cholesterol levels.
Researchers conducted their investigation on men who both possessed both low testosterone levels and cardiovascular disease.
Those with both had higher cholesterol and triglycerides levels than those with normal levels, leading the researchers to theorize that testosterone may play a part in cardiovascular disease by disrupting cholesterol metabolism.
Testosterone as a modulator
Testosterone modulates cholesterol by modulating hepatic expression of microsomal triglyceride transfer protein and apolipoprotein A-V proteins.
These play an essential role in regulating VLDL secretion into circulation that are rich in triglycerides; additionally, testosterone reduces production by suppressing LDLR mRNA transcription in liver tissue.
Researchers also observed that testosterone deficiency increased hepatic expression of two enzymes involved in cholesterol regulation: sREBP2 and cholestase B, both of which help convert cholesterol to triglycerides both within liver cells and plasma.
Testosterone replacement therapy can reverse these effects of low testosterone on cholesterol levels by increasing HDL cholesterol levels instead.
Triglycerides are a type of blood fat that stores any excess calories that have not been burned off.
This increases your risk for cardiovascular disease but they can be managed through lifestyle modifications like cutting out fatty foods and engaging in physical exercise regularly, or by taking medications designed to lower triglycerides.
As we age, our testosterone levels naturally decline. This can lead to elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels that increase your risk for heart disease; however, reducing this risk through regular check-ups and eating healthily is possible.
Does testosterone increase HDL cholesterol?
Testosterone is an important hormone, essential to many processes including sexual drive, muscle growth and bone density.
Additionally, testosterone plays an essential role in cholesterol levels - however it doesn't appear to impact LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Testosterone may help to increase HDL cholesterol - the "good" kind that keeps arteries clear - because of how it triggers an enzyme that breaks down fat in your bloodstream and also increases protein absorption from food sources.
Although its exact impact remains unclear, some experts speculate it could be related to how testosterone increases cell turnover rates.
One study revealed that low testosterone levels were linked to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome - an umbrella term for conditions including high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar, and excess belly fat.
Another found that individuals with lower testosterone had an increased chance of suffering a heart attack than those with normal levels.
Recent research revealed that higher testosterone levels were associated with reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels among healthy older adults.
Researchers theorize this could be because testosterone increases lipoprotein lipase protein production that helps break down fat in bloodstream.
Does testosterone increase LDL cholesterol?
One study revealed that men receiving testosterone replacement had lower LDL cholesterol and higher HDL cholesterol levels than those who did not take treatment after accounting for various confounds like thyroid hormones and BMI.
They further explored how age and testosterone deficiency affected hepatic protein expression; specifically they observed LXRa and CYP7A1 mRNA reduced by testosterone deficiency while SREBP2 was increased.
These results suggested testosterone could aid cholesterol homeostasis by altering expression levels of hepatic proteins responsible for its uptake and metabolism by controlling expression of these proteins that affect uptake and metabolism of this vital organ.
Conclusion - Cholesterol and Testosterone
Cholesterol is an essential fatty substance found throughout the body and required for many vital processes, including creating hormones.
But elevated levels can pose serious health problems including heart disease.
Low testosterone has been one of the primary culprits behind excessively elevated cholesterol levels.
Recent research has demonstrated that as testosterone levels decline, their risk of cardiovascular disease increases.
This is likely because when testosterone drops, cholesterol levels also increase which in turn raises triglyceride levels which build up in your blood and damage your heart.
When testosterone drops further, your ability to remove these triglycerides slows down leading to an increase in cholesterol.