Causes and Risk Factors

Many things can increase your risk for cholesterol problems, including eating food high in saturated fat, being obese, and not getting enough physical activity. And some people are just more prone to have high cholesterol because it runs in their family. Typically, your cholesterol levels rise as you get older, starting around age 20.

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Doctors can't usually say for sure what causes high cholesterol. But many things can make it more likely. These things include eating too much food that contains saturated fat and trans fat and having family who have or had high cholesterol. Many things can increase your risk for cholesterol problems. These include:

The foods you eat.

Eating too much saturated fat and trans fat can cause high cholesterol.

  • Saturated fat is in foods that come from animals. These foods include meats, whole milk, butter, and cheese.
  • Trans fat is found in fried foods and packaged foods. These foods include cookies, crackers, and chips.

Your age and sex.

After you reach age 20, your cholesterol naturally begins to rise.

  • In men, cholesterol generally levels off after age 50.
  • In women, it stays fairly low until menopause. Then it rises to about the same level as in men.

Some diseases.

Certain diseases may raise your risk of high cholesterol. These include hypothyroidism, chronic kidney disease, and some types of liver disease.

Your family history.

High cholesterol may run in your family. If family members have or had high cholesterol, you may also have it.

Other things that can affect your cholesterol levels include:

Your weight.

Being overweight may increase triglycerides and decrease HDL (good cholesterol).

Your activity level.

Lack of physical activity can lower your HDL.

Cigarette smoking.

Smoking can lower your HDL cholesterol.

Certain medicines.

Some medicines can raise triglyceride levels and lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels. These medicines include thiazide diuretics, beta-blockers, estrogen, and corticosteroids.

©2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.

Causes & Risk Factors

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Prevention

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Diagnosis

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Complications

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Treatment

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Management

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Causes & Risk Factors

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Prevention

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Diagnosis

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Complications

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Treatment

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Management

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