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Study Finds Association Between High Cholesterol and Breast Cancer

Update Date: Jul 06, 2014 04:18 PM EDT

A new study, carried out on more than 1 million patients over a 14 year time period in UK, has found an association between high blood cholesterol and breast cancer. 

 "Our preliminary study suggests that women with high cholesterol in their blood may be at greater risk of getting breast cancer. It raises the possibility of preventing breast cancer with statins, which lower cholesterol, but as this is a primitive study, significant time and research is needed before this idea can be tested," said Dr Rahul Potluri, founder of the ACALM Study Unit and lead author, in the press release. 

Prior studies have suggested an association between obesity and breast cancer. 

"We have a general principle that obesity is linked to breast cancer and a study in mice suggested that this may be because of cholesterol. We decided to investigate whether there was any association between hyperlipidaemia, which is high cholesterol essentially, and breast cancer," Dr Potluri added. 

Researchers noted that there were 664,159 women and of these, 22 938 had hyperlipidaemia and 9 312 had breast cancer. Around 530 women with hyperlipidaemia developed breast cancer.

With the help of a statistical model, researchers found that  having hyperlipidaemia increased the risk of breast cancer by 1.64 times.

"We found that women with high cholesterol had a significantly greater chance of developing breast cancer. This was an observational study so we can't conclude that high cholesterol causes breast cancer but the strength of this association warrants further investigation," Dr Potluri said.

 "A prospective study that monitors the risk of breast cancer in women with and without high cholesterol is needed to confirm what we observed. 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."

The study will be presented at Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology (FCVB) 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.

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