There’s good news for men concerned about developing prostate cancer. The AP reports, “Men may protect more than their hearts if they keep cholesterol in line: Their chances of getting aggressive prostate cancer may be lower.” Want to learn more? Then, read on as scientists at two institutions have detailed the research that led them to that conclusion in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.
According to the AP report, even though the papers “are not definitive and have some weaknesses,” they do “fit with plenty of other science suggesting that limiting fats in the bloodstream can lessen cancer risk.”
HealthDay reported that NCI investigators reviewed “data from a study that has followed more than 29,000 Finnish men for 18 years,” finding that “cholesterol levels below the generally recommended 200 milligrams per deciliter were associated with an 18 percent higher overall risk of cancer.”
Two studies looked at cholesterol in cancer finding that low cholesterol is a symptom rather than a cause and that low cholesterol may actually lower a man’s risk of high-grade prostate cancer.
In the first study, researchers observed over 29,000 men for 18 years for cancer and found no association unless they included men who were diagnosed right away after enrolling in the trial.
These men likely already had cancer and their low cholesterol was an effect and not a cause, since all the other men didn’t develop cancers at a rate different from men with normal or high cholesterol.
The second study found an association between low cholesterol and lower than average risk for high-grade prostate cancer, however we need to see the results of a clinical trial looking at the effects of lowering cholesterol on cancer risk before there will be recommendations for drugs like statins to be used preventively.
An editorial in same issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention concluded, “Results from the two analyses of cholesterol and risk of cancer published in this issue . . . clearly show that low total cholesterol is unlikely to increase risk of cancer.”
The editorial also makes this interesting observation: “If results of such observational studies support the hypothesis that low cholesterol inhibits prostate cancer progression, then it would raise the question of whether prostate cancer patients choosing active surveillance, rather than immediate treatment, could reduce their risk of disease progression by using statins or other cholesterol lowering drugs. This question, however, would need to be answered by a randomized trial.”
So, the bottom line?
Guys, get a lipid profile and if it’s abnormal do what you must do to get it normal — whether that’s changing your nutrition, increasing your physical activity, or using cholesterol lowering drugs.
Ladies, get the guys you love to have a lipid profile. If it’s abnormal, follow the advice above.