A direct relationship exists between your liver function and cholesterol levels. In fact, liver problems can lead to elevated cholesterol in your blood and vice versa. High cholesterol levels can contribute to a variety of chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease. If you're concerned about your liver function and cholesterol levels, consult your doctor about treatment options available.
One of the major functions of your liver is to produce bile, a fluid that helps to digest fats and process cholesterol, MayoClinic.com says. If you have liver damage or inadequate liver function, this function could become impaired, increasing your cholesterol levels. This can lead to a buildup of fat and cholesterol in your liver and blood, notes the University of Michigan Health System. Conversely, excessively high cholesterol levels in your blood can contribute to liver damage as well.
High cholesterol levels can lead to a buildup of fat in your liver, potentially causing nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, also called "fatty liver disease," says the University of Michigan Health System. Although high cholesterol can contribute to NASH, other liver conditions can cause elevated cholesterol levels. For example, liver diseases such as alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis can lead to high cholesterol, notes the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. A condition that involves the destruction of your liver's bile ducts, called primary biliary cirrhosis, can also cause high cholesterol, MayoClinic.com says. In many ways, liver disease and high cholesterol go hand-in-hand.
Liver disease can not only cause high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but it can also cause a buildup of toxins in your body and even lead to death, warns the University of Michigan Health System. NASH and other liver problems can lead to irreparable damage to your liver. High cholesterol levels can lead to liver damage or fatty liver disease, as well as heart and cardiovascular diseases, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC.
Many other factors can contribute to high cholesterol and liver damage. For example, some prescription medications for lowering your cholesterol levels--particularly niacin and statins--can actually damage your liver, says the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In addition to liver disease, you can develop high cholesterol levels by eating a diet that's high in saturated fat and trans-fatty acids such as those found in meats, dairy products, fried foods and processed food products, notes UMMC. Excessive alcohol consumption can also affect your liver function, leading to a potential problem in the way your liver regulates cholesterol levels.
Your lifestyle and diet can play an important role in both your liver function and your cholesterol levels. For liver disease, your doctor will typically recommend that you lower your cholesterol levels, lose weight, abstain from drinking alcohol and control your blood-sugar levels if you have diabetes, says the University of Michigan Health System. Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a diet that doesn't contain saturated or trans fats can all help to lower your cholesterol levels, according to UMMC.