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News2007July › 'Bad' Cholesterol: It may protect against cancer › July 2007

'Bad' Cholesterol: It may protect against cancer

People who try to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering their levels of the 'bad' LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol may develop cancer instead

People who try to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering their levels of the 'bad' LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol may develop cancer instead.

Even 'bad' cholesterol seems to have some useful purpose, and reducing it to too low a level - usually by taking statin drugs - could make us candidates for cancer.

Researchers have found that one extra patient out of every 1,000 who has very low levels of LDL-cholesterol develops cancer compared with patients with higher levels.

The research team, from Tufts University School of Medicine, made the discovery when they were trying to understand why statins cause damage to the liver and muscle cells.

The problem isn't with statin drugs, say the research team. Instead, there seems to be some protective quality of LDL cholesterol that we don't understand.

(Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2007; 50: 409-18).

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