Now a team led by researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute have identified a cellular process that cancer cells hijack to hoard cholesterol and fuel their growth. Identifying this process could inform the development of better ways to control cholesterol accumulation in tumors, potentially leading to improved survival for prostate cancer patients.
The findings are published online this month in the journal Cancer Research.
“Prostate cancer cells, as well as some other solid tumors, have been shown to contain higher cholesterol levels than normal cells,” said senior author Donald McDonnell, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke. “All cells need cholesterol to grow, and too much of it can stimulate uncontrolled growth.
Dr. Stegall’s Comments: This is an interesting study, because we have several studies which found a correlation between low cholesterol levels and increased cancer risk. These same studies found that those with higher cholesterol had a lower risk of cancer. While no studies found causation, it does suggest a clear relationship. This begs the question: should we really be trying to get cholesterol levels so low?