Breast Cancer Cell
Breast Cancer Cell Wikimedia Commons

Suffering from high cholesterol can increase the risk of breast cancer in women, a large study from the UK shows.

The study looked at one million patients enrolled in the Algorithm for Comorbidities, Associations, Length of stay and Mortality (ACALM) clinical database. Of the 6,64,159 women included in the data, some were suffering from hyperlipidaemia (22 938) while others had breast cancer (9,312).

It also provided details about 530 women who were initially diagnosed with hyperlipidaemia, but later tested positive for breast cancer. Hyperlipidaemia occurs when lipids in the blood reaches abnormal levels. Cholesterol and triglyceride are some important lipids found in the blood.

At the end of the study, researchers found an association between the two. People with hyperlipidaemia were at 1.64 times higher risk of developing breast cancer.

"We found that women with high cholesterol had a significantly greater chance of developing breast cancer. This was an observational study so we can't conclude that high cholesterol causes breast cancer but the strength of this association warrants further investigation," lead author of the study Dr Rahul Potluri, said in a news release.

"If the connection between high cholesterol and breast cancer is validated, the next step would be to see if lowering cholesterol with statins can reduce the risk of developing cancer."

Researchers will present the study at the Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology (FCVB) 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.

Interestingly, previous studies have shown cholesterol lowering drugs highly promising for treating breast cancer. A study conducted by University of Missouri found that a compound developed by Roche Pharmaceuticals to lower cholesterol prevented progression of breast cancer, caused cell death and destroyed oestrogen receptor that promotes cancer growth.

Breast cancer, one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among women across the whole world, will claim nearly 2.1 million lives every year by 2030, according to the World Cancer Research Fund International.

Research conducted in different parts of the world has linked the deadly disease to night shifts, alcohol addiction, smoking at young age, exposure to radiation before age 30, conceiving and giving birth to multiple babies via in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, high fat diet in pregnancy, high cholesterol, fatty food intake during puberty and certain medications used to treat high blood pressure. Some studies released in the recent past have also cited the role of stylish bras, moles, red meat in breast cancer development.