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16-02-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Self-rated health linked to changes in lipid levels in men


Free Abstract

MedWire News: Research indicates that self-rated health is associated with changes in the levels of plasma lipids in men, but not in women.

Arie Shirom (Tel-Aviv University, Israel) and colleagues say that increases in self-rated health predict subsequent elevations in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and decreases in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels in men.

"[These findings] support the theoretical arguments that when formulating a subjective assessment of their health, people take into consideration information on the levels of objective risk factors," explain the researchers.

"People's subjective assessments of their state of health probably reflect subclinical physiological processes and also adverse health behaviors likely to impact their future lipid levels," they add.

The researchers assessed the associations between self-rated health and lipid levels in 846 healthy men and 378 healthy women who underwent three routine health examinations (T1, T2, and T3) between 2003 and 2010.

During the examination, participants were asked to assess their general health on a scale of 1 to 5 - with 1 being poor and 5 excellent.

Reporting their findings in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, the researchers say that in men, an increase in self-rated health from T1 to T2 was associated with increased HDL cholesterol and decreased triglyceride levels at T3, relative to the respective levels at T2.

However, changes in self-rated health did not predict follow-up changes in either of these lipids in women.

Furthermore, changes in serum lipids from T1 to T2 did not predict changes in self-rated health from T2 to T3 in either gender.

Shirom et al explain that their results support the hypothesis that, in men, the effects of self-rated health on morbidity and mortality could be mediated by serum lipids.

In addition, they say that the lack of significant associations in women are consistent with recurrent findings indicating that the relationship between self-rated health and mortality is stronger in men than women because women base their judgments on a wider range of health-related and non-health-related factors than men do.

"The major task for future research is to explain the psychological and physiological mechanisms that mediate the across-time linkages found in our study," the team concludes.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Nikki Withers