The Breast Cancer Cholesterol Connection
Scientists have long struggled to understand why women with heart disease risk factors are more likely to develop breast cancer. Now research suggests that high cholesterol may play an important role.
Estrogen drives the majority of breast cancers in women. The hormone binds to proteins known as receptors inside the tumor, helping it grow. Research is showing that when cholesterol breaks down in the body, a common byproduct of that process can increase tumor growth in human breast cancer cells. Studies are also showing that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may slow the progression of some breast cancers. Further research is being conducted to better understand the exact connection of high blood cholesterol levels and breast cancer.
Meantime, women are encouraged to take these steps to increase their overall health and hopefully reduce their breast cancer risk:
Eat heart-healthy foods
- Reduce saturated fats. Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products, raise your total cholesterol. Decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol.
- Eliminate trans fats. Trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” are often used in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes. Trans fats raise overall cholesterol levels. READ MORE