The Relationship Of Parasites And Cholesterol

Recent studies show that cholesterol plays an important role in parasitic infection. A clinical study done by Bansal et. al., on the role of cholesterol in parasite infections suggests that cholesterol allows certain types of parasites to further develop once they are inside the human body.
Some of the most devastating and common diseases in humans are caused by parasite (protozoa and helminthes) infections. Statistics shows that parasite infections cause 2 million deaths annually. More than a hundred types of parasites are present. They normally live within the human blood, intestines, liver, muscles, lungs, lymphatic tissues and even in the brain. Most of these parasites undergo complex developmental life cycle stages, from their original source (water, soil, etc.) to their intermediate hosts (insects or animals), and then to their target hosts (most commonly human beings) for food and reproduction.

Parasites And Cholesterol

As parasites’ environment changes during their development, so do their nutritional requirements. Researchers observed that people who suffer from parasite infection tend to have significant changes in the their lipid profile (cholesterol levels). Although, the exact mechanism that involves lipid profile changes still remains uncertain. In a clinical study, researchers conducted in vitro experiments to determine how parasites induce parameter changes in the lipid level of their specimens. They claimed that “cholesterol starvation” prevents parasites to further develop to their mature state and subsequently preventing the parasites to cause further harm to humans.

This implies that some parasites might be metabolizing cholesterol once they are inside the human body. This makes organs like liver, which possess high level of cholesterol, target for parasite infection. In fact, researchers found that parasites often travel to areas rich in cholesterol. If this were the case, when a person is infected, the parasites would surely love to stay longer inside human hosts who have high level of cholesterol.  

Unfortunately, medical researchers are still not completely sure about the relationship between parasites and cholesterol level in human. There is no strong evidence that high level of cholesterol enhances the development of parasites inside the human body. Some researchers pointed out that people who are infected with malaria, a deadly parasitic disease, do not have any significant changes in cholesterol level at all. As of this point, recent studies that link parasites and cholesterol together suggest that some other factors should be considered as well.  Even though parasite development utilizes cholesterol (lipid), it is not conclusive. Other substances, such as enzymes, are also involved in the process.

Regardless of the relationship between parasites and cholesterol, parasitic infection is one of the most neglected health conditions in some parts of the world. Medical experts pointed out that all human beings have at least one type of parasite dwelling in their body. It is only a matter of good hygiene, strong immune system and awareness that prevent an individual from becoming infected.

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