7 Weird Things You Had No Idea Can Cause You To Have High Cholesterol

When you think about having high cholesterol, you may look at it as something you only get when you're older. Unfortunately, high cholesterol is a real possibility for anyone at any age and should be taken seriously, starting with figuring out things that can cause you to have high cholesterol.

Let's take a step back for a second to discuss what cholesterol actually is. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute defines cholesterol as, "a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body." Cholesterol is carried through your body by two types of lipoproteins, one good and one very bad. When people talk about having high cholesterol they mean high levels of LDL, the bad lipoprotein. The problem is that the only way to know if your cholesterol levels are high is to go to the doctor and get tested. "Cholesterol issues may be a silent issue — you may not present with some overt signs and symptoms," Dr. Michael Krychman, MD, OBGYN, Sexual Medicine Gynecologist and the executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine, tells Bustle.

While you may not be able to tell on your own if you have high cholesterol, there is a lot you can do to keep your levels low, namely identifying what causes high cholesterol. Here are some unexpected things you didn't know could cause high cholesterol.

1Having Certain Diseases

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According to WebMD, having diseases such as chronic kidney disease or hypothyroidism can increase your chances of getting high cholesterol.

2Family History

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If your family history indicates that you may have a predisposition to increased cholesterol, you may have the same genetic predisposition," Dr. Krychman says. Ask your parents if they or any of their relatives have high cholesterol to know if it's something you're more at risk for.

3Poor Diet

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"There are external and modifiable risk factors that increase the likely hood that someone may develop elevated lipids such as poor diet (excessive intake of refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and saturated fats)," Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, CLC, registered dietitian nutritionist, tells Bustle.

4Inactivity

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Having a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of high cholesterol, Feller says. If you sit all day at work try getting up and taking a walk around the office whenever you have a few minutes.

5Medicine You Take

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WebMD also reports that taking certain medicines such as estrogen and beta-blockers can make you more at risk for high cholesterol.

6Smoking

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Dr. Sherry A. Ross, women's health expert and author of she-ology. The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health, tells Bustle that smoking can seriously increase your risk of high cholesterol. Awful for your health in ever way, here's just one more reason not to pick up a cigarette.

7Your Age

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When women enter menopause their cholesterol is more likely to increase, the American Heart Association reports, so being proactive in other sectors of your life is critical to keep your levels down.

Luckily, there are ways to lower your cholesterol if it is high, from eating healthier fats to being more active. If you think you may be at risk of high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about getting tested — it's the only way to know if your cholesterol levels are high.