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Can high cholesterol lead to colon cancer?

Published on 03 April 2018  | Download | back to previous

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NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) - We are verifying whether high cholesterol diets cause colon cancer.

The answer is that it is very probable, according to the latest study done at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Dr. Chong Lee, a colorectal surgeon at Bon Secours DePaul hospital, explained how scientists came up with this conclusion using mice.

"This study from UCLA is more direct evidence that there are genetic links to developing colon cancer from a high cholesterol diet," he said.

Scientists made mice eat more high-cholesterol foods. They altered their genes to increase the natural production of cholesterol, which is similar to humans. Some people simply produce more cholesterol.

Here is what Dr. Lee said they found:

"In the intestinal stem cells -- which also produces colon cancer cells -- there is a hundred-fold increase in activity. So their conclusion is that this will directly increase the risk of colon cancer formation in the mice."

But Dr. Lee added, "How this relates to the human population is yet to be seen. This is the first study that has a genetic implication direct of high cholesterol diet and colon cancer risk."

Dr. Lee said the study is another reason to pick banana and oatmeal for breakfast instead of a muffin when trying to decrease the size of your own muffin top. It also points to the importance of controlling your cholesterol numbers through diet and statin drugs.

"If you do have a history in your family, you should try to curtail cholesterol levels," Dr. Lee said. "One has to be aware and clinicians have to be aware that we have to be aggressive in lowering levels of cholesterol in our patients."


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