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Low Cholesterol May Help Prevent Cancer
Date:11/3/2009

cers had high Gleason scores, a measure of the disruption of the prostate gland's normal structure caused by the malignancy, the study found. Prostate cancers with the highest Gleason scores are regarded as the most difficult to treat.

Cholesterol levels had no significant effect on the overall incidence of prostate cancer in the study, said study leader Elizabeth Platz, co-director of the cancer prevention and control program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

But the association between low cholesterol levels and a reduced incidence of aggressive disease "is a notable reduction which is not often seen for prostate cancer," she said.

It is still not known whether statins, which help prevent heart disease by lowering blood levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, can reduce the risk of cancer, Albanes said.

"We did not collect information in detail on cholesterol-lowering efforts," Albanes said. "It may be premature to read from our findings that such efforts to actively lower cholesterol levels can achieve a cancer benefit. Our results don't speak to that point."

Nevertheless, "evidence continues to mount that the use of statins is inversely correlated with the risk of prostate cancer," Platz said.

But both agreed that further research is needed to both prove the point and identify the molecular mechanisms behind the association.

More information

A guide to cholesterol is offered by the American Heart Association.



SOURCES: Demetrius Albanes, M.D., senior investigator, U.S. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.; Eric Jacobs, Ph.D., strategic director, pharmacoepidemiology, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Elizabeth Platz, Ph.D., co-director, cancer prevention and control program, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Baltimore; November 2009, Cancer E
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