High Cholesterol – Aggravating Drugs/Medicines

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You must not reduce medications unless you have first agreed this with your doctor! 

High cholesterol can be secondary to other diseases and some medications for other diseases can raise cholesterol levels slightly or lead to high cholesterol.

Diseases and metabolic states that can cause a rise in cholesterol levels:

Alcohol abuse
Pregnancy (levels can remain high after pregnancy)
Anorexia nervosa

The following drugs / medicines can aggravate or cause a rise in cholesterol:

Beta Blockers & Alpha blockers

Beta blockers are usually the first line treatment for blood pressure however they raise triglyceride levels and lower the good HDL cholesterol.  They can also induce glucose intolerance. The following types of beta blockers can all affect cholesterol levels: Atenolol, Bisoprolol, Metoprolol, Nadolol and Proponolol.


A study published in 2013 showed that after 4 weeks of steroid therapy (prednisolone) patients had a significant increase in Body Mass Index, blood pressure total and LDL cholesterol however the parameters all returned to normal 2 weeks after stopping the treatment.

Anabolic Steroids

Patient QI found studies showing that administration of anabolic androgenic steroids changes the lipid profile. The LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels where high and the HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels were significantly lower.

Oral contraceptives

Patient QI found the most recent study published in 2012, confirmed that Oral Contraceptives increase the level of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), total cholesterol (TC) and triglycerides (TG).


Retinoids are a group of substances that include Vitamin A and are used as treatments for Psoriasis and other skin problems. Patient QI found a study that showed that a three month treatment with retinoids caused a slight reduction in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) after a month’s treatment but levels returned to normal after three months. A further study that looked at the long term risk of Retinol  (Vitamin A) supplements showed that after  49 months of follow up, alkaline phosphatase was 7% higher, triacylglycerol was 11% higher and cholesterol was 3% higher with the good HDL 1% lower in the Vitamin A treated group compared with a placebo group.


Cimetidine and ranitidine have been shown to alter the lipid profile.  Whilst some papers claim they raise cholesterol others have shown that they raise HDL-3 cholesterol, one of the beneficial HDL cholesterols.


The chemotherapy drug Tamoxifen has anti oestrogen properties and cases have been reported of it causing dangerous lipid abnormalities. In their letter to the New England Journal of Medicine Dr Keith Kanel and Dr Norman Wolmark say that Tamoxifen should be used cautiously in patients who have hypertriglyceridemia in the fasting state before treatment is begun. ‘Our experience has shown that dangerous lipid abnormalities may occur years into therapy, and therefore vigilance must be maintained until the tamoxifen is discontinued’.


Reduce Aggravating Medicines

Conventional Medicine Treatments

Immune System Treatments

Herbal Medicine-Phytotherapy

Food & Supplements

Creative Therapies

Mind Body Therapies

Traditional Medicine

Lifestyle Changes

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