Hi, so my name is Whitney Erin Boesel and I’m going to talk to you about my experiences with the blood testers project.
I did my first cardio check cholesterol screen at the Quantified Self 2017 conference in Amsterdam. And a that time my cholesterol wasn’t abysmal, but it was higher than I expected, which is a little bit unnerving.
High cholesterol does run on one side of my family, but not the other, and since I’m still only in my 30’s I don’t yet know to which side I belong. On the one hand, I don’t eat the land creatures, so that helps. But on the other hand, I do eat a ton of eggs and full-fat dairy and I don’t ever want to have to change that if at all possible.
So when the blood testers project began last fall, I decided to test a fairly unusual hypothesis which was, if I do absolutely nothing, my cholesterol will get all better by itself. If that sounds like some crazy town magical thinking that’s because it probably is, but I had two variables in play that made it much more reasonable than you might think.
The first was that five and a half months before my cardio check screen over the summer, I’d given birth to my daughter. I knew from my experience with the drug called spironolactone, that there actually is a relationship between sex hormones and cholesterol levels. So it seemed totally reasonable that my lactational amenorrhea could be influencing my cholesterol.
I wasn’t able to find much in the literature on Pub Med about how cholesterol varies over a menstrual cycle, although I did this morning randomly do an open web search and found that it’s an established fact on Mommy blog that your cholesterol is higher during your second and third post (primester? 01:57) and post (unclear 01:58). But even then, given what I knew at the time I still expected that my cholesterol levels would drop once my cycle returned and returned to normal.
The second variable, speaking of lactation I was and still am breastfeeding my child, and since only 10% of the cholesterol in human milk is synthesized within the breast, the other 90% of cholesterol in my milk has to come through my blood. And human milk is actually pretty high in cholesterol. So, given all that made sense that as my child approaches weening and as I slowly stop chloresterolating for two, I would expect my cholesterol to drop.
My cycle had returned by the time my blood testers project started in the fall, but I was able to track my daily fasting cholesterol over a 16-day ovulatory cycle, and then the 28-day cycle that followed that, which was actually my first 28-day cycle. And then another 28-day cycle four and a half months later once my cycle was kind of clearly regular.
As you can see, I love this about this graphic, my cholesterol has indeed dropped over that time. And in addition, this last cycle here, the more recent one actually shows the same pattern that the only study we could find looking at cholesterol over the menstrual cycle shows. So we did replicate that curve, although on a much higher resolution because I used a protocol that’s tested much less frequently, which means that my work for the blood testers project may actually be the first high resolution study of it’s kind to look at what cholesterol does over a regular menstrual cycle.
In closing, I obviously have no way of teasing out how much causality attributes to these variables or to any additional relevant variables like sleep, which is effected when you make a baby. But my hypothesis does stand. I made no avert changes to my diet or exercise and yet my cholesterol did still improve.
For me at least it seems as though mildly elevated cholesterol may have just been a normal part of the post part here and changed. It probably sounds weird, but I actually really wish I could continue checking my own cholesterol at home. My daughter and I are kind of in the long tale of our nursing relationship, and I’m really interested to see what happens to my cholesterol as she approaches weening and then finally does.
It might be that my cholesterol continues to drop as I’m not supplying cholesterol for her. Or it could be that it’s going to shot up because I’m still eating all the eggs and all the cheese, and I won’t have anyone siphoning off the extra. Who knows.
I also thinking on a longer timescale is just love to see what it does as I age. If f I were to start seeing signs if my cholesterol was creeping up and I was going to be on that side of my gene pool, it would probably get me to start prioritizing the exercise that I should be prioritizing now. Like I know I should, and I know that (unclear 04:58) fhelps for some but not that much. But really there’s only so much time in my day.
I never used to be so very interested in cholesterol at all but know that I’ve been tracking it that I’m doing it and I don’t really want to quit.
So, thank you.