Link Found between Cholesterol and Breast Cancer
Although high cholesterol levels have long been associated with the incidence of breast cancer according to previous research studies, the chemical that causes the relationship has not been known until now. Drs. Donald McDonnell and Erik Nelson of Duke University have discovered a cholesterol metabolite that causes high cholesterol levels to precipitate the development and spread of breast cancer.
The results were reported in the science journal Science, with additional stories being reported on the findings in numerous scientific articles in print and online. The metabolite, 27-hydroxycholesterol (27HC) mimics estrogen, as the researchers had previously shown in studies using animals. Additionally, researchers discovered the presence of 27HC in all breast cancers that were removed from humans.
Some common therapies used for breast cancer patients are anti-estrogen tamoxifen and others. The 27HC has been shown to interfere with the actions of these therapies in the treatment of breast cancer.
This is the first time that research has proven a link between a chemical and the development of breast tumors and the aggressive growth of breast cancer. This is a significant finding, since it not only leads to better treatments, but a much simpler means of prevention. Through diet and the use of statins which are taken to manage cholesterol in at-risk individuals, the production of 27HC can be controlled. This greatly increases the potential for the prevention of breast cancer to develop, in the first place, instead of working towards a more effective cure.