Why Do You Have High Cholesterol?

A bowl of fresh eggsDo you have high cholesterol? You’re not alone—so do about 100 million other Americans. High cholesterol comes from a variety of sources, including your family history and what you eat.

Here are some of the most common causes.

Your diet

Eating too much saturated fat (like the kind found in this classic breakfast) can cause high cholesterol. You will find this unhealthy fat in foods that come from animals. Beef, pork, veal, milk, eggs, butter, and cheese contain saturated fat. Packaged foods that contain coconut oil, palm oil, or cocoa butter may have a lot of saturated fat. You will also find saturated fat in stick margarine, vegetable shortening, and most cookies, crackers, chips, and other snacks.

Your weight

Your beer belly isn’t just bad for your social life. Being overweight may increase triglycerides and decrease HDL, or good cholesterol. Losing that gut can go a long way toward improving that body, too.

Your activity level

Lack of physical activity may increase LDL, or bad cholesterol, and decrease HDL, or good cholesterol. So get moving!

Your age and gender

After you reach age 20, your cholesterol levels naturally begin to rise. In men, cholesterol levels generally level off after age 50. In women, cholesterol levels stay fairly low until menopause, after which they rise to about the same level as in men.

Your overall health

Don’t skip your annual physical, and be sure to have your doc explain your heart disease risk. Having certain diseases, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism, may cause high cholesterol.

Your family history

If family members have high cholesterol, you may also.

Cigarette smoking

Smoking can lower your good cholesterol. And it can kill you. So why not just go ahead and quit?

Don’t Touch That! 8 Places With The Most Germs

Hand germs disease spread and the dangers of spreading illness in public as a health care risk concept to not wash your hands as dirty infected fingers and palm with microscopic viruses and bacteria.

Worried about what you or your family are picking up in restrooms or while you’re out shopping? Well, you should be: Viruses and bacteria run rampant on the surfaces you touch every day.

Touch a germ-infected surface, then rub your nose or mouth, and the next thing you know, microbes are dancing the mambo in your body. With the cold and flu and other run-of-the-mill bugs crawling about public places year round, germaphobes have plenty to worry about.

Unfortunately, going anywhere people congregate can boost your chances of getting sick, says Philip Tierno, Ph.D., author of The Secret Life of Germs (Atria) and director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. That’s because viruses and bacteria live practically everywhere — shopping malls, grocery stores, playgrounds, petting zoos, restaurants. They can survive up to two hours on shopping carts, escalator handrails, even doorknobs before they find their next victim.

“We encounter about 60,000 types of germs every year, but if you’re healthy, there’s no need to fear going out in public,” Tierno says.

You can also give your defense system a boost by taking steps to prevent infection; in particular, knowing the top public places areas with the most germs:

The Grocery Store
Germiest items: Shopping cart handles, packaged meats, seat buckets

“Customers may sneeze, wipe their noses, then touch the cart handles,” says Lola Stamm, M.S., Ph.D., a microbiologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

They’re also contaminated by children’s dirty hands. And by leaky meat packages that you toss into your cart. Poultry and beef can contain bacterial bombs such as salmonella, campylobacter and E. coli, which cause severe diarrhea, intestinal swelling, nausea and vomiting, she says.

“If meat packages leak onto the conveyor belt, it could contaminate the food on the conveyor as well as your hands,” Stamm says.

About 70%-80% of the shopping carts tested nationwide had E. coli, says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a University of…