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Does Breastfeeding Cause An Increase In Serum Cholesterol?



by Amy Spangler
July 28, 2011

Can breastfeeding cause an increase in serum (blood) cholesterol. If so, should I have my cholesterol level checked?

According to Jane Heinig, Ph.D, IBCLC, director of the Human Lactation Center, University of California Davis, physiologic changes that occur during lactation can cause an elevated serum cholesterol. The increase is usually in total cholesterol and not in low density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol). Breastfeeding mothers often find that they have elevated high density lipoproteins (good cholesterol), as well as an increase in lipoprotein lipase activity, an enzyme that plays a role in fat metabolism. Increased lipase activity ensures that fats are efficiently delivered to the breasts. Elevated cholesterol during lactation is actually a good thing. It rarely leads to plaque deposits, since most of the cholesterol is sequestered in the milk, where it will do the most good and the least harm!