Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 71 million adults in the U.S. who are at least 20 years old have high cholesterol level, a condition that puts them twice as likely to develop heart disease compared with individuals with lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol.
Besides having elevated risks for cardiovascular diseases, findings of a new study also suggest that individuals with high cholesterol levels are also likely to develop breast cancer, which was responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 Americans in 2010.
Although the findings of the study are still preliminary, it found that women with obesity problems and high cholesterol level are at increased odds of getting diagnosed with breast cancer strengthening the idea that the cholesterol-lowering drug statin may also reduce the risk of breast cancer.
For the new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcelona, Spain on July 4, Rahul Potluri, from the University of Aston in Birmingham, UK, and colleagues looked at the data of one million patients in the Algorithm for Comorbidities, Associations, Length of Stay and Mortality, or ACALM, database that cover a 13-year period from 2000 to 2013.
Of the patients, 664,159 were women, 22,938 of whom had hyperlipidemia, a condition characterized by having excess lipids in the blood, and 9,312 had breast cancer. Five hundred and thirty of those with hyperlipidemia developed breast cancer. By making a statistical analysis of the link between hyperlipidemia and breast cancer, Potluri and colleagues found that women with hyperlipidemia are 1.64 times more likely to develop breast cancer.
Potluri said that while the study does not provide evidence the having high cholesterol level could lead to breast cancer, their findings on the association of high cholesterol level and breast cancer warrants further studies. He also said that that the link suggests it may be possible to prevent breast cancer with statins, which doctors prescribe to patients battling with bad cholesterol to lower their cholesterol level. Potluri has nonetheless acknowledged that further research is still needed as their findings are based on a preliminary study.
Potluri said that a prospective study that would monitor the likelihood of breast cancer in women who have high and normal cholesterol level is require to confirm what they have obeserved. "If the connection between high cholesterol and breast cancer is validated, the next step would be to see if lowering cholesterol with statins can reduce the risk of developing cancer," Potluri said.