Plasma cholesterol is related to menstrual status in adolescent girls with eating disorders and weight loss

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This study examined the relationship between plasma cholesterol and circulating triiodothyronine and oestradiol in 561 adolescent girls aged 11–17 with eating disorders.


Plasma total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, serum triodothyronine and oestradiol were measured at assessment, and historical weight data were obtained from growth charts provided by the school health services. Cholesterol levels were related to weight change, menstrual status and serum hormones.


Plasma total cholesterol levels of >5.0 mmol/L were found in 38% of the 77 girls who were premenarcheal, 32% of the 199 with secondary amenorrhoea and 17% of those who were still menstruating. These cholesterol levels were inversely related to serum oestradiol and triiodothyronine concentrations, but not weight change, in amenorrhoic girls and were positively related to body mass index and inversely related to weight loss and serum triiodothyronine in girls who were still menstruating.


Increased plasma total cholesterol was related to amenorrhoea in adolescent girls with eating disorders and weight loss. Oestrogens appeared to mediate the effect of starvation on cholesterol, most effectively in premenarcheal girls. Re-establishing menstruation is an important goal in the treatment of eating disorders, to avoid dyslipidaemia and the risk of future cardiovascular disease.

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