Monday, November 09, 2009


I have always have to niggling feeling that when you lower someones cholesterol too low, you are bound to have a consequence. For a longtime, I felt that the consequence was a higher incidence of cancers. I reasoned that God had given us cholesterol for a good reason ( and not to cause atherosclerosis ), and removing cholesterol drastically will upset the cell cycle. We do need cholesterol for cell wall formation, for hormonal production and for maturation of brain cells. There were some earlier studies, including the Atromid S studies, that seemed to show a relationship between lowering cholesterol and cancers. Even studies as recent as the SEAS and ENHANCE seem to suggest that too. However, non of these studies were conclusive for the association of cholesterol and cancers. But the lingering doubt was always there.
In the online edition of " Cancer Epidermiology, Biomakers and Prevention ", there were too studies publish which showed some relationship, but again were non conclusive.
Dr D.Albanes and colleague from both sides of the Atlantic conducted the " Alpha Tocopherol, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention trial ". This trial was jointly sponsored by the US National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Health and Welfare of Finland. They followed up 29,093 males who were smokers from 1993-2003. In those 10 years, there were 7,545 cases of cancers. They reported that there seemed to be a corelation between lower incidence of cancers in males with lower levels of total cholesterol. There was also a lower incidence of cancers in those with higher levels of HDL-cholesterol. That's interesting. There seemed to be no corelation between LDL-cholesterol and cancers, in this study.
Dr Elizabeth Platz and colleagues from the John Hopkins reported on the " Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. They followed 5,586 males above 55years prospectively over 3 years and noted 1251 cases of cancer of the prostate of various stages. They found no corelation between pprostatic cancers and serum cholesterol.
So basically, we are left with a strong suspicion but nothing conclusive. In fact, one conclusion that one can draw is that the sudden lowering of serum cholesterol in some patients may not be just good " statin " effect, but rather an early sign of cancer. Is this possible?.
Be that as it may, I always believe that extremes are bad. Ultra low cholesterol, although favoured by pharmas producing cholesterol lowering pills, may not be a good idea. A moderate lowering is what I would advocate. The small percentage less heart attack gain ( if the numbers are true ), may not be worth the risk of cancers. Moderation in life has always been our philosophy.

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