A new study shows that a cholesterol byproduct could fuel the growth and spread of breast cancer. Does this mean that cholesterol medication – like statins – could be used to combat this deadly disease?
There is still much more research to be done before any women should consider taking statins to prevent cancer. However, this work does help explain why obesity has been linked to a higher rate of breast cancer.
Research Fast Fact – Obesity has been linked to many cancers, for example:
- Breast Cancer
- Bowel Cancer
- Uterine Cancer
The accumulated fat in overweight individuals produces certain hormones like estrogen that act as a catalyst for cancerous cell activity. The research team at Duke University’s Medical Center showed how high cholesterol could be doing the same thing.
The Derivative of High Cholesterol
The human body breaks down this waxy substance into 27 – Hydrocholesterol (27HC). This by-product can act like estrogen, which produces the similar catalytic effect in some parts of the body. Experiments using mice have already shown that a high-fat diet can produce tumors that are 30 percent bigger than subjects on a normal diet. The tumors also tend to be more aggressive – especially when fed on a substantial diet of 27HC.
One of the lead investigators on this project was Professor Donald McDonnell. “A lot of studies have shown a connection between obesity and breast cancer, and specifically that elevated cholesterol is associated with breast cancer risk, but no mechanism has been identified,” says Mcdonnell. “What we have now found is a molecule – not cholesterol itself, but an abundant metabolite of cholesterol – called 27HC that mimics the hormone oestrogen and can independently drive the growth of breast cancer.”
What’s the Best Way to Lower Cholesterol?
This research team now believes that lowering high cholesterol in women could reduce their risk of developing cancer. But are statins the right step to take? Let’s look at the data…
This cholesterol-lowering drug is already prescribed to millions to lower their risk of heart disease. Additional high cholesterol clinical studies suggest that statins can also be used to cut the risk of breast cancer.
Still, this may not be the path some are comfortable taking. In that case, we strongly suggest that you look into these 5 awesome cholesterol lowering foods for your next grocery trip. Eating more healthily can help you manage high cholesterol and body weight.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s Dr. Hannah Bridges said “Up until now research into the links between cholesterol levels, use of statins and breast cancer risk has been inconclusive.”
“The results from this early study are promising and if confirmed through further research could increase our understanding of what causes some breast cancers to develop.”
This research insight could open up new doors for medical experts and scientists. Never before have we been able to identify a direct link between high cholesterol and this deadly disease. It’s still too early to make any solid predictions of where this may lead, but the possibilities are intriguing.