[PHNUTR-L] Mental stress may be another culprit in raising
cholesterol levels in healthy adults
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD
fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com
Wed Nov 23 06:13:20 PST 2005
Colleagues, the following is FYI and does not necessarily reflect my own
opinion. I have no further knowledge of the topic. If you do not wish to
receive these posts, set your email filter to filter out any messages
coming from @nutritionucanlivewith.com and the program will remove
anything coming from me.
Article: "Associations Between Acute Lipid Stress Responses and Fasting
Lipid Levels 3 Years Later," Andrew Steptoe, D.Sc., and Lena Brydon,
Ph.D., University College London; Health Psychology, Vol. 24, No. 6.
Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office
or at http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/hea246601.pdf.
Public release date: 22-Nov-2005
Contact: Pam Willenz
pwillenz at apa.org
American Psychological Association
Mental stress may be another culprit in raising cholesterol levels in
Increases risk for later heart problems
There is good evidence to show that stress can increase a person's heart
rate, lower the immune system's ability to fight colds and increase
certain inflammatory markers but can stress also raise a person's
cholesterol? It appears so for some people, according to a new study
that examines how reactions to stress over a period of time can raise a
person's lipid levels.
This finding is reported in the November issue of Health Psychology,
published by the American Psychological Association (APA). In a sample
of 199 healthy middle-aged men and women, researchers Andrew Steptoe,
D.Sc., and Lena Brydon, Ph.D., of University College London examined how
individuals react to stress and whether this reaction can increase
cholesterol and heighten cardiovascular risk in the future. Changes in
total cholesterol, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and
high-density lipoprotein (HDL), were assessed in the participants before
and three years after completing two stress tasks.
Our study found that individuals vary in their cholesterol responses to
stress, said Dr. Steptoe. "Some of the participants show large increases
even in the short term, while others show very little response. The
cholesterol responses that we measured in the lab probably reflect the
way people react to challenges in everyday life as well. So the larger
cholesterol responders to stress tasks will be large responders to
emotional situations in their lives. It is these responses in everyday
life that accumulate to lead to an increase in fasting cholesterol or
lipid levels three years later. It appears that a person's reaction to
stress is one mechanism through which higher lipid levels may develop."
The stress testing session involved examining the participants'
cardiovascular, inflammatory and hemostatic functions before and after
their responses to performance on moderately stressful behavioral tasks.
The stress tasks used were computerized color-word interference and
mirror tracing. The color-word task involved flashing a series of target
color words in incongruous colors on a computer screen (ex. Yellow
letters spelling the color blue). At the bottom of the computer screen,
four names of colors were displayed in incorrect colors. The object of
the task was to match the name of the color to the target word. The
other task used was mirror tracing, which required the participant to
trace a star seen in a mirror image. The participants were told to focus
more on accuracy than on speed in both tasks.
At the follow up three years later, cholesterol levels in all the
participants in the study had gone up, as might be expected through
passage of time. However, individuals with larger initial stress
responses had substantially greater rises in cholesterol than those with
small stress responses. The people in the top third of stress responders
were three times more likely to have a level of 'bad' (low-density
lipoprotein) cholesterol above clinical thresholds than were people in
the bottom third of stress responders. These differences were
independent of their baseline levels of cholesterol levels, gender, age,
hormone replacement, body mass index, smoking or alcohol consumption.
The authors found no sex differences among the participants in their
cholesterol levels and response to stress. Steptoe and Brydon speculate
on the reasons why acute stress responses may raise fasting serum
lipids. One possibility may be that stress encourages the body to
produce more energy in the form of metabolic fuels – fatty acids and
glucose. These substances require the liver to produce and secrete more
LDL, which is the principal carrier of cholesterol in the blood. Another
reason may be that stress interferes with lipid clearance and a third
possibility could be that stress increases production of a number of
inflammatory processes like, interleukin 6, tumor necrosis factor and
C-Reactive protein that also increase lipid production.
Even though these lipid responses to stress were not large, said Dr.
Steptoe, "the levels are something to be concerned about. It does give
us an opportunity to know whose cholesterol may rise in response to
stress and give us warning for those who may be more at risk for
coronary heart disease."
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD < fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com >
"Ask the Parkinson Dietitian" http://www.parkinson.org/
"Eat well, stay well with Parkinson's disease"
"Parkinson's disease: Guidelines for Medical Nutrition Therapy"
More information about the PHNUTR-L