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Cholesterol tests clarify links to cancer risk

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

In addition to imposing harmful effects on heart health, high cholesterol could raise a patient's risk of developing some types of cancer, new research suggests.

Two studies published this week in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention revealed that that those with low total cholesterol experience 60 percent less risk of developing the most aggressive form of prostate cancer, while elevated levels of the good cholesterol HDL may protect against lung and liver cancers, CNN reports.

Though a series of studies in the 1980's led researchers to surmise that very low cholesterol levels were linked with high cancer risk, the new studies bring scientists to the conclusion that low cholesterol may be a result, rather than cause, of cancer.

"Very few studies measured HDL, and any relationship between HDL and overall cancer risk had therefore not been adequately evaluated," Dr Demetrius Albanes, the lead author of one study at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), told the news source.

The study, which examined 29,000 male smokers in Finland over an 18-year period determined that when HDL levels rose about 55mg/dL, the patients were rewarded with an 11 percent decrease in overall cancer risk.

According to NCI, cholesterol tests for the average man show HDL levels between 40 and 50 mg/dL.
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