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Has stress caused my cholesterol to rise?

MagazineFebruary 2004 (Vol. 14 Issue 11)Has stress caused my cholesterol to rise?

Following the shock early last year of my husband being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, I visited my local private clinic for health screening

Following the shock early last year of my husband being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, I visited my local private clinic for health screening. I am 56 years old, and had been suffering with fatigue, and various non-specific aches and pains.

I had accompanied my husband to the excellent Bristol Cancer Help Centre and knew from them that our lifestyle and diet were, and had been for many years, in the main very healthy. I was therefore dismayed to learn from the screening that my cholesterol level of 7.03 posed, in their view, a moderately high risk of cardiovascular disease. Apart from stating in his summary that 'this as a single risk factor out of more than a dozen is of limited significance', and giving me details of dietary and exercise controls, all of which I have been following for years, the screening doctor was unable to give me any further details.

In the Questions & Answers section of WDDTY vol 14 no 4, there is reference to the significance of the percentage of HDLs in the overall cholesterol count. If I have calculated it properly, my results show an HDL level of 35 per cent which, if I have understood your article correctly, puts me at a lower risk than that implied by the doctor. Are you able to reassure me on this?

I believe that stress is a contributing factor to high cholesterol levels and would welcome your views on whether or not the stress of the past year could be the prime reason for this unexpectedly high reading. As statins appear to be the flavour of the month for most of the medical profession, I am loathe to visit my GP to discuss this matter further. Any advice you have would be most welcome. - JC, Basingstoke

WDDTY replies: There is a proven link between stress and raised cholesterol levels and, as your diet is good, this could well be a cause, if not the cause. A full report on the effects of stress on many diseases, including high cholesterol, is found in WDDTY vol 13 no 8.

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