More on the cholesterol debate (WDDTY Vol 3 No 1).
A California doctor reviewing the literature in the Lancet on 21 March 1992 believes that the bizarre outcome of cholesterol lowering recently reported an increase in suicide or violent deaths has to do with a lowering of a substance in the hormone which keeps harmful impulses in check.
Dr Hyman Engelberg of the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles says that one of the functions of serotonin in the central nervous system is to suppress our harmful behavioural impulses. In animal studies, mice with lowered cholesterol also had a decrease in the number of serotonin receptors. As Engelberg concludes: "A lowered serum cholesterol concentration may contribute to a decrease in brain serotonin, with poor suppression of aggressive behaviour."
Interestingly, one effect of the new class of anti depressants (called 5-H drugs) is to inhibit the availability of serotonin in certain nervous system cells. Numerous instances of violent or suicidal tendencies among patients taking these drugs have been reported.