Stress can impact your health in a number of ways – from sleep disturbance, to weight gain and more. Recent studies have examined the relationship between stress and cholesterol levels, according to a June 2014 review in Endocrine Connections. These studies have suggested a link between stress and cholesterol, but the exact nature of the relationship is still unclear. Researchers aren’t sure whether stress can cause high cholesterol or whether it’s due to the way in which a person handles stress. Either way, there is definitely a connection that warrants further study.
According to large study in the March 2013 issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, workers reporting job stress during the previous year had higher cholesterol levels. They were more likely to have high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as the “bad” cholesterol – and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as the “good” cholesterol. The link between job stress and unhealthy cholesterol levels existed even after the researchers tried to remove the effects of other lifestyle habits known to promote unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Another study reported in Health Psychology evaluated the effects of stress on cholesterol levels more directly. Immediately after a group of adults performed stressful mental tasks, their blood was tested. The results showed a small, but significant increase in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol compared to the levels before the tasks. Of particular interest, the LDL increased more than the HDL. Although this study seemed to demonstrate a direct effect of stress on cholesterol, further studies are needed to confirm exactly how stress affects cholesterol levels.