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High Levels of “Bad” Cholesterol Found to Facilitate the Spread of Cancer

High Levels of “Bad” Cholesterol Found to Facilitate the Spread of Cancer | Cancer - Advances, Knowledge, Integrative & Holistic Treatments | Scoop.it

A study shows for the first time that low density lipoprotein, or LDL, helps cancer cells migrate by providing them with velcro-like molecules that help take up root elsewhere.

Graham Player Ph.D.'s insight:

An important part of research and studies is to understand the processes of metastasis as cancer cells escape their primary tumor site, travel to other parts of the body and grow into secondary cancers. These metastases are often the major cause of death from cancer.

Most of the cells in the body stick to each other because they have velcro-like molecules on their surfaces called integrins. In recent years, researchers have discovered that integrins help cancer cells to escape tumors and settle elsewhere in the body. So an important question in cancer research is how to block integrins so they stop cancer cells from moving and spreading.

An international research study published in the journal Cell Reports, led by the University of Sydney in Australia has identified that "bad" cholesterol (low density lipoprotein or LDL) as an important culprit in metastasis. The researchers discovered that integrins can move from the surface of cells to the inside, and that cholesterol, one of the major lipids in the body, is needed to keep integrins on the surface of cancer cells. But the underlying mechanisms, until now, have been somewhat unclear.

Thomas Grewal, a senior author of this latest study and an associate professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy at Sydney, says they found high levels of "bad" cholesterol seem to help the integrins in cancer cells to move around, and in contrast, high levels of 'good' (high density lipoprotein or HDL) cholesterol seem to keep the integrins inside cells.

Knowing "how to manipulate and lower 'bad' cholesterol could significantly help to reduce the ability of cancer cells to spread," says Prof. Grewal, who with co-senior author Carlos Enrich, a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Barcelona in Spain, has been working on the link between cholesterol and cancer for 15 years.

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Cholesterol 'Fuels' Breast Cancer

Cholesterol 'Fuels' Breast Cancer | Cancer - Advances, Knowledge, Integrative & Holistic Treatments | Scoop.it
A byproduct of cholesterol functions like the hormone estrogen to fuel the growth and spread of the most common types of breast cancers, researchers report.
Graham Player Ph.D.'s insight:

Research for the first time explains the link between high cholesterol and breast cancer, especially in post-menopausal women, and suggests that dietary changes or therapies to reduce cholesterol may also offer a simple, accessible way to reduce breast cancer risk.

One of the products of cholesterol metabolism is 27HC, which mimics the hormone estrogen and can independently drive the growth of breast cancer. It is well known that estrogen can promote breast cancers.

The researchers set out to determine whether this estrogen activity was sufficient on its own to promote breast cancer growth and metastasis, and whether controlling it would have a converse effect.

They found a direct correlation between the aggressiveness of the tumor and an abundance of the enzyme that makes the 27HC molecule. They also noted that 27HC could be made in other places in the body and transported to the tumor. "The worse the tumors, the more they have of the enzyme," said lead author Erik Nelson, Ph.D., a post-doctoral associate at Duke Cancer Institute.

The findings suggest there may be a simple way to reduce the risk of breast cancer by keeping cholesterol in check.

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