Cholesterol levels are affected by:
- What you eat. Eating too much saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can cause high cholesterol.
- Your weight. Being overweight may increase triglycerides and decrease HDL (good cholesterol).
- Your activity level. Lack of physical activity can lower your HDL.
Your age and gender. 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.
- 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.