'Good' cholesterol may protect against cancer

June 15, 2010 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

'Good' cholesterol may protect against cancer
New study findings are showing that high levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as HDL or "good cholesterol" may be linked to a lower risk of cancer.

Researchers analyzed 24 studies including about 76,000 people assigned to take statins and nearly 70,000 people who were given placebo. They followed subjects for an average of about five years.

They found the risk of developing any type of cancer during follow-up decreased as a person's baseline HDL cholesterol levels rose. Each 10 mg/dL increase in HDL levels reduced cancer risk by 36 percent.

While it's unclear why HDL cholesterol would reduce cancer risk, researchers suspect it may be due to its antioxidant effects. HDL cholesterol may also help the immune system in its task of searching for and destroying abnormal and potentially cancerous cells.

HDL cholesterol is known as "good" cholesterol, because high levels seem to protect against heart attack. Unlike LDL cholesterol, HDL carries cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it's passed from the body, it also removes excess cholesterol from arterial plaque, slowing its buildup.

Researchers note the same healthy habits that help maintain high levels of good cholesterol, including exercising, quitting smoking, eating healthy and keeping their weight in check also have a significant impact on the prevention of most chronic diseases associated with aging, such as cancer.

Learn more about cholesterol by visiting the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Wondering how to boost your HDL cholesterol?  Click here to learn more about Leslie Beck's book Heart Healthy Foods For Life.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.