February 24, 2009

Lower cholesterol may decrease cancer risk

Cholesterol reduction may reduce angiogenesis, ultimately leading to less aggressive prostate cancer tumors, U.S. researchers suggest.

Dr. Keith Solomon of Children's Hospital Boston said that prostate tumors accumulate high levels of cholesterol, and tumor incidence correlates with eating a high fat/high cholesterol diet Western diet.

Solomon and colleagues fed mice a high fat/high cholesterol diet and found that high cholesterol levels promoted tumor growth, but that Ezetimibe, or Zetia, which blocks the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine, could prevent this increased tumor growth.

Ezetimibe also blocked a cholesterol-mediated increase in angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels required for tumor progression. These data suggest that reducing cholesterol levels may inhibit prostate cancer growth specifically by inhibiting tumor angiogenesis, Solomon said.

Lowering cholesterol levels whether through diet, exercise, or the use of safe cholesterol-lowering drugs is known to provide a substantial benefit to patients -- in the future it may be possible to add reduced risk of serious prostate cancer to that list of benefits Solomon said in a statement.

The findings are published in the March issue of The American Journal of Pathology.