Having low cholesterol levels may reduce a man’s risk for high-grade prostate cancer, according to a study conduced by Johns Hopkins epidemiologists.

Elizabeth Platz, ScD, MPH, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-director of the cancer prevention and control program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, and collaborators analyzed data from 5586 men ≥ 55 years of age. During the 1993-1996 study period, some 1251 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Researchers found that men with cholesterol levels in the normal range, lower than 200 mg/dL, had a 59% lower risk of developing high-grade prostate cancer.  Cholesterol levels had no significant effect on the entire spectrum of prostate cancer incidence, only those that were high-grade.

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Dr Platz explained that cholesterol may influence key signaling pathways controlling cancer cell survival and that cancer cells use survival pathways to evade the normal cycle of cell life and death.

“For many reasons, we know that it’s good to have a cholesterol level within the normal range,” said Platz. “Now, we have more evidence that among the benefits of low cholesterol may be a lower risk for potentially deadly prostate cancers.”

The findings were published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (2009;18[11]:2807-2813).