Men with high cholesterol levels increase risk of prostate cancer

Milan: Italian researchers have discovered that men with high levels of cholesterial have a 50 per cent higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

High levels of bad cholesterial (LDL) are already linked to other diseases particularly cardiovascular disease.

The new study is published in the Annals of Oncology on-line and says the present study found a direct association between high cholesterol levels and prostate cancer.

Each year more than half a million men develop prostate cancer with nearly half dying of the disease. Over half a million men worldwide are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, with over 200,000 deaths from the disease. The lowest incidence of the cancer is in Asia and the Far East, in particular India, Japan and China.

Led by Francesca Bravi from the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri in Milan, the study investigated cholesterol levels of 1294 men with clinically diagnosed prostate cancer, and 1451 controls with no prostate cancer.

After taking into account lifestyle, the researchers found that high cholesterol was associated with a 50 per cent increase in the risk of prostate cancer.

The risk is even higher for men over 65, with high cholesterol levels, who increase their risk of the cancer by 80 per cent, whereas younger men had a 32 per cent increased risk.

The increase risk is thought to be linked to higher levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a protein that is used as a marker for the disease, in men with high cholesterol levels. Raised levels of PSA are indicative of prostate cancer risk, although two-thirds of men with high PSA levels will not have prostate cancer.

Some experts argue against the cholesterol-PSA link, saying that the metabolic products of cholesterol are carcinogenic and that this may be the mechanism responsible.