Keeping a check on your ‘bad cholesterol’ can help prevent tumor growth

Keeping a check on your ‘bad cholesterol’ can help prevent tumor growth


The findings of a recent study suggest that the growth of cancerous cells can be reduced by controlling bad cholesterol. It was found that tumors use lipids to grow and use the latter as building blocks.

The research was conducted to understand how tumor cells grow by scavenging low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), which are known as bad cholesterol in lay man’s language. Mechanisms that can be used to reduce the malignant cell’s growth were also explored as a part of the research.

The studies conducted at the University of Alberta in Canada and the Medical University of Graz in Austria revealed that the tumors can regulate and control their host’s lipid metabolism to augment production of these lipids along with using the lipids to grow.

According to Richard Lehner, Professor of Pediatrics and investigator at the faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, the bad cholesterol attaches itself to the LDL receptors in the liver, which is the organ responsible for degrading and excreting it from your system as bile. He further adds that cancer cells require lipids to grow and they can produce their own lipids or acquire the same from the host as these cells multiply very fast. The tumor can send signals to your liver that it needs more cholesterol for growth, which in turn is reprogrammed to secrete those lipids.

Proteins that all of us have are an important factor in this process. Large quantities of protein may lead to a decrease in the amount of LDL receptors to excrete the cholesterol. The tumor, in turn, affects these proteins to reduce clearance of cholesterol from the blood, leaving the LDL for cancer to feed off of it.

These results led the researchers Richard Lehner and Gerald Hoefler (Medical University of Austria, Graz) to an interesting supposition that by minimizing the liver’s production of LDL it would be possible to deprive the tumor of its regular supply and consequently reduce its chances of growth.

The pre-clinical model experiments have been successful confirming lower tumor growth with the regulation of proteins that affect the production of VLDL and uptake of LDL by receptors from the liver.

The researchers feel that if the clinical trials are successful and effective, there could be a better way to help cancer patients by eliminating the tumor and at the same time preventing its growth.

The study was published in the journal “Cell Reports”.