Auto emissions - exhaust pipe closeup

Before you head to the pharmacy to refill your Lipitor prescription, check this out. The American Heart Association's journal on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology has concluded that high levels of vehicle emissions can cause high cholesterol in mice, which could indicate that air pollution is a contributing factor in high cholesterol or vascular disease.

In the study, mice were exposed to diesel exhaust for two weeks "at a particulate mass concentration within the range of what mine workers usually are exposed to" (according to UCLA), which, not surprisingly, had a negative effect on the bloodstream. First, the air pollution altered the HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein, a.k.a. "good cholesterol") to the point that the positive properties of the protein were reduced and could lead to high levels of LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein, "bad cholesterol") and hardening of the arteries. While this seems like a study related to extreme pollution, it draws yet another linkage between our environments and our health.