Tobacco and Alcohol


Maj West
Along with diet and exercise, there are other lifestyle choices we make that affect our lipid levels. Dr. Phillips, what lifestyle changes should a person with dyslipidemia consider?

Dr. Phillips
Well, let’s take a look at two fairly common lifestyle choices that affect a person’s lipid levels. The first may be obvious — it’s tobacco use.

Smoking tobacco lowers the level of HDL cholesterol in the body. This, of course, is the good cholesterol that helps to prevent heart disease. If you smoke, you have an increased risk of developing heart disease during your lifetime.

The good news is that once a person quits using tobacco, their HDL cholesterol levels return to normal within a relatively short time. There’s just not a good reason to smoke, and a lot of reasons to quit.

Another lifestyle choice that has been linked to dyslipidemia is alcohol consumption. Small amounts of alcohol can actually reduce your risk for heart disease. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol in moderation can increase HDL cholesterol.

It’s important to remember that too much alcohol can cause serious health problems, including permanent liver damage. Your liver plays a key role in processing lipids, and over-indulging in alcohol can reduce its ability to function. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider for advice on consuming alcohol in moderation.