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Association of low serum total cholesterol with major depression and suicide

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 January 2018

T. Partonen*
Department of Mental Health and Alcohol Research, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland
J. Haukka
Department of Nutrition, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland
J. Virtamo
Department of Nutrition, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland
P. R. Taylor
Division of Clinical Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MQ USA
J. Lönnqvist
Department of Mental Health and Alcohol Research, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland
Dr T. Partonen, National Public Health Institute, Department of Mental Health and Alcohol Research, Mannerheimintie 166, FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland. Tel: +358 9 47448213; Fax: +358 9 47448478; e-mail:



It has been suggested that low serum total cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of suicide.


To study the association between serum total cholesterol, depression and suicide using versatile, prospective data.


A total of 29 133 men aged 50–69 years were followed up for 5–8 years. Baseline blood samples were analysed for serum total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations. Self-reported depression was recorded, data on hospital treatments due to depressive disorders were derived from the National Hospital Discharge Register and deaths from suicide were identified from death certificates.


Low serum total cholesterol was associated with low mood and subsequently a heightened risk of hospital treatment due to major depressive disorder and of death from suicide.


Our results suggest that low serum total cholesterol appears to be associated with low mood and thus to predict its serious consequences.

Copyright © 1999 The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

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