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'Good' HDL Cholesterol Now Tied to Lower Cancer Risk
Date:6/14/2010

But finding is an association and doesn't prove cause-and-effect, researchers say

MONDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Higher blood levels of HDL cholesterol, the "good" kind that protects against heart disease, are also strongly associated with a lower risk of cancer, a new review of studies suggests.

"For about a 10-point increase of HDL, there is a reduced risk of cancer by about one third over an average follow-up of 4.5 years," said Dr. Richard Karas, executive director of the Tufts Medical Center Molecular Cardiology Research Institute and lead author of a report in the June 22 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Those numbers come from an analysis of 24 randomized controlled trials, aimed at determining the effect on heart disease of lowering levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, through the use of statin drugs. The review singled out trials that also recorded the incidence of cancer among the participants.

The researchers report a 36 percent lower cancer rate for every 10 milligrams per liter (mg/dl) higher level of HDL. But while the relationship between higher HDL and lower cancer risk was independent of other cancer risk factors, such as smoking, obesity and age, Karas was careful to say the study does not prove cause and effect.

"We can say that higher levels of HDL are associated with a lower risk of cancer, but we can't say that one causes the other," he said.

Exactly so, said Dr. Jennifer Robinson, professor of epidemiology and medicine at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, who wrote an accompanying editorial. High HDL levels may simply be a marker of the kind of good traits that reduce both cardiovascular and cancer risk, she said.

"People have a lot of characteristics that are all kind of interrelated," she said. "They may not exercise, be obese and so on, and so have lower HDL than normal. The higher risk of cancer may ha
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