Study finds cholesterol levels spike during Christmas season

The holiday season is known for excessive eating and weight gain, but a new study warns there may be an invisible consequence to this end-of-year consumption: a spike in cholesterol levels. The research comes out of the University of Copenhagen's Department of Clinical Medicine, which found that the odds having elevated cholesterol levels were six times higher after Christmas.

The Copenhagen General Population Study found that nine out of 10 people who were part of the study had elevated post-Christmas cholesterol levels. Overall, based on the 25,000 people evaluated, the study found that the risk of elevated cholesterol ratings were six times higher after the Christmas holiday and that the levels were on average 20-percent higher than when tested in summer.

The researchers called the results surprising, indicating that the types of foods eaten over Christmas break may be a contributing factor, as well as the quantities consumed. Elevated cholesterol can lead to narrowed arteries and increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

The findings are important for a number of reasons, revealing that people at risk should be mindful of their consumption over the Christmas period, as well as those who already have elevated levels. As well, doctors should keep the findings in mind when testing patients who have cholesterol issues — testing right after the Christmas break may return atypical results that don't reflect the patient's normal levels.

This is the latest of multiple Christmas-related studies we've seen released this winter. Earlier this week, a study shed light on a new method for processing pine needles into useful chemical compounds, which could prove a sustainable way to get chemicals for commercial products. The method could one day be an effective way to recycle unwanted Christmas trees.