Life Extension Update
Low LDL cholesterol associated with increased cancer risk
The finding of a review reported in July 31, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology questions the wisdom of widespread aggressive reduction of cholesterol to very low levels by the use of statin drugs as recommended by recent national guidelines. Although significant reduction of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol may help prevent heart disease, researchers at Tufts University have discovered an association between decreased LDL and a greater risk of cancer.
In an effort to determine the mechanism of statin drugs’ damaging side effects, Tufts University School of Medicine professor of medicine Richard H. Karas, MD and colleagues examined data from the treatment arms of 23 randomized controlled statin drug trials that included 75,317 participants, and found that liver toxicity rose with increased dosage, leading the team to conclude that moderate dose therapy with several medications may be preferable to high dose therapy with a statin drug alone.
To examine the drugs’ effect on cancer, 13 treatment arms including 41,173 participants were evaluated. When the researchers analyzed the effect of LDL reduction on the rates of newly diagnosed cancer, they found that for every 1,000 patients with low LDL levels there was an additional incidence of cancer compared to the same amount of subjects with higher LDL. This relationship was not dependent upon the percentage of change in LDL levels, nor was the cancer limited to a specific type or location.
The authors conclude that “the cardiovascular benefits of low achieved levels of LDL cholesterol may in part be offset by an increased risk of cancer.” It is not known whether the increased risk of cancer is attributable to statin drugs or having low LDL. “This analysis doesn’t implicate the statin in increasing the risk of cancer,” Dr Karas stated. “The demonstrated benefits of statins in lowering the risk of heart disease remain clear, however, certain aspects of lowering LDL with statins remain controversial and merit further research.”
The following nutritional supplements offer synergistic benefits to assist dietary modification to reduce total serum cholesterol and elevate HDL cholesterol:
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