In a recent update on personal health, a reader discovered notable changes in their cholesterol levels and body weight without any deliberate intervention. These surprising findings raised concerns and prompted a medical consultation with their healthcare provider. The reader’s query prompted further exploration into the causes and implications of these unexpected shifts.
The individual, who goes by the initials E.S., routinely tracks their health through annual blood work. When comparing their latest results to the previous year’s data, they were taken aback by the stark changes observed. Specifically, the total cholesterol levels had decreased from 222 mg/dL to 181 mg/dL, and triglyceride levels had dropped from 174 mg/dL to 146 mg/dL. Notably, E.S. did not take any statin medications nor make any significant dietary, medication, or lifestyle alterations. They did, however, mention that they had recently shed 8 pounds of body weight.
Wishing to gain clarity on these developments, E.S. reached out to their healthcare provider. However, to their surprise, the doctor appeared nonchalant and disinclined to discuss the changes in detail, simply expressing contentment with the new numbers. In light of this response, E.S. sought further insight into the underlying reasons behind these remarkable shifts and whether they should be a cause for concern.
Dr. Roach, in response to E.S.’s query, acknowledged the connection between weight loss and improvements in cholesterol levels. Nonetheless, he expressed some surprise at the magnitude of the change, given an 8-pound weight loss translating to a 20% reduction in cholesterol levels. Dr. Roach emphasized that cholesterol readings can exhibit fluctuations over short time frames, and E.S. might have coincidentally measured their levels at a particularly low point. The concept of “regression towards the mean” was introduced, suggesting that a follow-up test might reveal slightly elevated numbers.
Dr. Roach also pondered the reasons behind the unintentional weight loss, emphasizing that such unexplained weight loss could be a potential red flag for underlying health issues. Among the potential culprits, he cited conditions such as thyroid disease, diabetes, malabsorption disorders, and even cancer. Psychological factors, like depression and anxiety, were not ruled out as contributing to unexplained weight loss.
In conclusion, Dr. Roach proposed that while regression towards the mean and weight loss could provide a plausible explanation for the reduced cholesterol levels, ongoing unexplained weight loss should not be taken lightly and warrants further medical evaluation.
On another note, a reader by the initials R.S. sought information on the development and management of skin tags (acrochordons) on their arms, neck, abdomen, and underarms. Dr. Roach clarified that skin tags are benign outgrowths of normal skin and are not indicative of tumors. They tend to appear in areas where skin can rub against itself, such as the underarm, neck folds, the groin, or beneath the breasts. Dr. Roach noted that individuals with insulin resistance, including those with Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, may be more prone to developing skin tags.
While not medically necessary, skin tags can be removed for cosmetic reasons or if they cause discomfort. Dr. Roach mentioned that removal can be performed in a medical office setting but cautioned about potential complications. Over-the-counter treatments are available, but their effectiveness varies from person to person.
In sum, Dr. Roach provided valuable insights into the causes and management of skin tags, offering guidance to individuals experiencing these common skin growths.