What Causes the Elevation of Cholesterol Levels In the Blood?

After all, what causes the elevation of cholesterol levels in blood?

The following are some suggestions from the medical literature about factors, beyond the famous but wronged and simplistic idea that foods based on saturated fats cause the development of atherosclerosis (1, 22), suggesting that stress, high carbohydrate diets (sugar acid) and smoke may raise total cholesterol and low density lipoproteins levels:

1. Stress increases metabolic acids
a) Anxiety and cholesterol elevation (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
b) Hostility and cholesterol elevation (12, 13, 14)
c) Extreme physical exertion and cholesterol elevation (15)

2) High carbohydrate diets or the acid sugar and cholesterol elevation (16, 17, 18).

3) Smoke and cholesterol elevation (19, 20).
It is interesting to notice that specially in stress conditions and in high carbohydrate diets there is a significant elevation in blood lactic acid, with paralleling elevation of cholesterol levels in blood which represents in my view, a healing response of the body to the vascular endothelial lesions caused by the lactic acid. (21)

As Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, from the International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS), use to say: “Do cigarettes contain fat? No, not at all. So, how can smoking a cigarette, containing no fat or cholesterol, end up depositing fat and cholesterol in the artery walls. What is the mechanism for that?” The answers is easy. When you smoke your are breathing in burnt acid sugar and tars of which the body binds up with cholesterol to protect the artery walls.


A recent meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies during 5–23 years of follow-up of 347,747 subjects showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD. Consideration of age, sex, and study quality did not changed the results (22)

1. Uffe Ravnskov, Cholesterol Myths at http://www.ravnskov.nu/cholesterol.htm

2) Changes in plasma lipids with psychosocial stress are related to hypertension status and the norepinephrine stress response. Wirtz PH, Ehlert U, Bärtschi C, Redwine LS, von Känel R. Metabolism. 2009 Jan;58(1):30-7.

3. Effects of hemoconcentration and sympathetic activation on serum lipid responses to brief mental stress, Elizabeth A. Bachen, Matthew F Muldoon et al, Psychosomatic Medicine 64:587-594 (2002)

4. Serum lipids, neuroendocrine and cardiovascular responses to stress in healthy Type A men, Fredrikson M, Blumenthal JA, Biol Psychol. 1992 Oct;34(1):45-58

5. Factors associated with the development of panic attack and panic disorder: survey in the Japanese population Kaiya H et al. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2005 Apr;59(2):177-82a

6. Changes in mental well-being, blood pressure and total cholesterol levels during workplace reorganization: the impact of uncertainty, Taylor & Francis V15, N1 January 1, 2001: 14-18

7. Examination stress: changes in serum cholesterol, triglycerides and total lipids. Agarwal V, Gupta B, Singhal U, Bajpai SK. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1997 Oct;41(4):404-8.

8. Wives of patients with acute myocardial infarction are at an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease, Papamichael Ch et al, J Cardiovasc Risk. 2002 Feb;9(1):49-52

9. Lipid reactivity to stress: I. Comparison of chronic and acute stress responses in middle-aged pilots, Stoney CM et al, Health Psychol. 1999 May;18(3):241-250

10. Associations between acute lipid stress responses and fasting lipid levels 3 years later, Andrew Steptoe and Lena Brydon, Health Psychology 2005, Vol. 24, No. 6, 601-607

11. Effect of preoperative stress on serum cholesterol level in humans. Sane AS, Kukreti SC, Experientia. 1978 Feb 15; 34(2): 213-4

12. Prevalence of hostility in young coronary artery disease patients and effects of cardiac rehabilitation and exercise training, Lavie CJ, Milani RV, Mayo Clin Proc. 2005 Mar;80(3):335-42

13.Richards JC, Hof A, Alvarenga M. Serum lipids and their relationships with hostility and angry affect and behaviors in men.Health Psychol. 2000 Jul;19(4):393-8.

14. Hostility-related differences in the associations between stress-induced physiological reactivity and lipid concentrations in young healthy women.Suarez EC, Harralson TL. Int J Behav Med. 1999;6(2):190-203.

15. Changes in lipoprotein profiles during intense military training. B. L. Smoak, J. P. Norton, E. W. Ferguson and P. A. Deuster. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol 9, Issue 6 567-572

16. Metabolic effects of dietary fructose in healthy subjects.Swanson JE, Laine DC, Thomas W, Bantle JP. Am J Clin Nutrition 1992;55:851-6

17. Blood lipids, lipoproteins, apoproteins, and uric acid in men fed diets containing fructose or high-amylose cornstarch. Reiser S. Powell AS, Scholfield DI. Panda P. Ellwood KC. Canary II. Am J Clin Nutr 1989:49:832-9.

18. Hallfrisch J, Reiser 5, Prather ES. Blood lipid distribution of hyperinsulinemic men consuming three levels of fructose. Am J Clin Nutr 1983:37:740-8.

19. The Relationship Between Smoking, Cholesterol, and HDL-C Levels in Adult Women
Bert H. Jacobson; Steven G. Aldana; Troy B. Adams; Michael Quirk; Haworth, Women & Health, Volume 23, Issue 4 July 1996 , pages 27 – 38

20. Smoking and smoking cessation — the relationship between cardiovascular disease and lipoprotein metabolism: a review. Chelland Campbell S, Moffatt RJ, Stamford BA. Atherosclerosis. 2008 Dec;201(2):225-35

21. Carlos ETB Monteiro, Acidic environment evoked by chronic stress: A novel mechanism to explain atherogenesis. Available from Infarct Combat Project, January 28, 2008 at http://www.infarctcombat.org/AcidityTheory.pdf

22. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease, Patty W Siri-Tarino, Qi Sun, Frank B Hu, and Ronald M Krauss. Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27725. First published ahead of print January 13, 2010

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