Post-menopausal women should be keeping an eye on their cholesterol levels, researchers have warned.
An Australian National University study has found women who've already gone through menopause have higher cholesterol levels than those who have not.
The study published on Wednesday has looked at data from more than 100,000 women.
Researcher Ananthan Ambikairajah says post-menopausal women have higher levels of what is sometimes called bad cholesterol.
Bad cholesterol, or low density lipoproteins, is stored in arteries where it doesn't break down.
Excessive build up increases the risk of heart disease or stroke.
Women who are obese or have low levels of physical activity are at particular risk.
On the other hand what's often dubbed good cholesterol, or high density lipoproteins, is stored in the liver where it can break down.
But despite its moniker, Mr Ambikairajah said bad cholesterol gets an unfair rap.
"Cholesterol has all sorts of important functions," he said.
"It allows things like proteins to go in and out of the body, which are really important."
Mr Ambikairajah said people could not survive without some bad cholesterol.
"The range it's within is the important thing."
He recommended post-menopausal women get their levels checked.
Mr Ambikairajah said more research was needed to find out exactly why levels spiked after menopause.
Australian Associated Press