Cigarette smoking and plasma cholesterol

Joshua E. Muscat, Randall E. Harris, Nancy J. Haley, Ernst L. Wynder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Plasma cholesterol levels were determined for 51,723 participants of community-based cholesterol screenings in 10 United States cities during 1988. Among white adult men and women under the age of 60 without other cardiovascular disease risk factors, a dose-response relationship was found between the number of cigarettes smoked per day and increasing levels of plasma cholesterol. In men aged 18 to 60 years, average plasma cholesterol increased by 0.33 mg/dl for each cigarette smoked (p < 0.001); in women aged 31 to 50 years, average plasma cholesterol increased by 0.48 mg/dl for each cigarette smoked (p < 0.001). Plasma cholesterol levels among ex-smokers were found to be similar to those of nonsmokers. No association between cigarette smoking and levels of plasma cholesterol was observed in men and women over age 60. Possible mechanisms for this observed relationship include an antiestrogenic effect of cigarette smoking that makes the observation more noticeable in younger female cohorts, enhanced lipolysis that increases levels of plasma free fatty acids, or differences in dietary intake between smokers and nonsmokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-147
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Heart Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Jan 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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