Researchers have recently found an association between high cholesterol level in the blood and breast cancer. Obesity was previously linked to breast cancer, and it was thus suggested that high cholesterol characteristic of obesity could be behind this increase in breast cancer risk. However, it is not clear whether cholesterol directly triggers the cancer to sprout. In light of these speculations, a potential measure of prevention would be to decrease cholesterol levels if it is proven that cholesterol is a causative agent.
A new study done in the UK showed that breast cancer is linked with high cholesterol. The study involved 1 million patients and spanned over a period of 14 years. The conclusion derived from the preliminary results pointed at the association between high blood cholesterol (the bad type, known as low-density cholesterol (LDL) ) and increased risk of developing breast cancer. However, the researchers stated that more research has to be done in order to find a definite link between the two.
How was cholesterol linked with breast cancer?
Other studies in the past have found similar results. In one such study, obesity was linked with breast cancer. This could be explained by high level of cholesterol in the blood of obese people that makes them more prone to developing breast cancer. This is the hypothesis that the lead author of the paper, Dr Rahul Potluri, set out to test.
With the aim to establishing a clear idea of whether there is a link or not between the two variables – high cholesterol level and risk of breast cancer – scientists drew statistical models that showed that having hyperlipidaemia (high cholesterol) increased the risk of developing breast cancer by 1.64 times. This implies that women with great concentrations of cholesterol running in their blood are more prone to having breast cancer than those who do not have high levels of cholesterol. However, this does not prove that high cholesterol itself is the causative agent of the cancer. Hence, more research has to be done to understand the whys and hows behind this association. Once this is deciphered, the scientists would have to make more tests involving lowering blood cholesterol level to see if the risk of breast cancer decreases.
Potential preventive method: lowering blood cholesterol level using statins
If this were accurate, lowering blood cholesterol could be included as a preventive method to lower the risk of breast cancer. For instance, statins, drugs administered for people having high LDL level, can be taken to decrease the concentration of cholesterol in the blood. The authors stated that the next step would be to have clinical trials, making patients take in statins and observe the effects on the incidence of breast cancer.