Statins, Healthy Diet Help Lower Breast Cancer Risk, StudyBy Staff Reporter, UniversityHerald Reporter
Taking statins, the cholesterol-lowering drug on a regular basis can help prevent breast cancer, according to a Duke University study.
During lab experiments, researchers at Duke School of Medicine in Durham, N.C., found 27HC, a by-product of cholesterol, to be responsible for tumor growth and metastasis in mice. They believe that a similar process might be occurring in human breast tumors.
As a result, experts claim that a daily dose of statins along with a healthy diet not only helps curb cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease but also reduce breast cancer risk.
"What is most exciting was the observation that lowering cholesterol alone in animals was sufficient to reduce breast cancer risk," said Donald P. McDonnell, PhD, lead researcher and chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke, Everyday Health reports.
"A lot of studies have shown a connection between obesity and breast cancer, and specifically that elevated cholesterol is associated with breast cancer risk, but no mechanism has been identified," said lead researcher, Donald. "What we have now found is a molecule called 27HC that mimics oestrogen and can independently drive the growth of breast cancer," Daily Mail UK reports.
For the study, the researchers first conducted an experiment on mice. When they injected 27HC daily, the cancer was found to spread rapidly. When the mice were given statins, it was observed that cholesterol and tumor expansion reduced drastically.
When the tests were conducted on human cells, the researchers found that the most violent cancers generated high levels of a chemical that, in turn, promoted the production of 27HC.
"This study is intriguing as it shows for the first time a direct link between cholesterol and breast cancer in mice - but it's too early to say how this knowledge might help tackle breast cancer in the future," Dr Emma Smith, Cancer Research UK's senior science communications officer, said.
"And, as the research was only done in the lab, it's a long way from showing that taking statins will lower a woman's risk of developing the disease."
The finding has been published in the journal Science.
According to Breast Cancer.org, about 1 in 8 U.S. women develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.