Statin Cholesterol Drugs and Invasive Breast Cancer

What does breast cancer have to do with cholesterol? There are many potential mechanisms by which cholesterol boosts breast cancer growth. For example, our bodies make estrogen, which is correlated with increased risk of breast cancer, out of cholesterol. We also package cholesterol into LDL, which, as you can see in my video Cholesterol Feeds Breast Cancer Cells, appeared to increase proliferation and decrease patient survival.

Cholesterol is a major component of “lipid rafts.” Compared to their normal counterparts, cancer cells have higher levels of these cholesterol-rich lipid rafts in their plasma membrane, which may be important for cancer cell survival and may serve in human cancer development in terms of tumor migration and invasion. Elevated levels of cholesterol-rich lipid rafts have been found in breast cancer cells, and the hypothesis is that reducing blood cholesterol levels “may disrupt lipid raft formation and thereby inhibit breast cancer development.” This suggests cholesterol targeting may be used as a cancer therapy.

Controlled laboratory experiments have shown that phytosterols in seeds and nuts at dietary relevant levels appear to inhibit the growth of several types of tumor cells including breast cancer cells, including both estrogen-receptor negative and estrogen-receptor positive cancer. The therapeutic implications are that “plant-based diets rich in phytosterols may offer protection against the development of breast cancer.” Of course, you can’t make a lot of money on pumpkin seeds, so researchers looked to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

Some petri dish work looked promising, but population studies have shown mixed results. Some studies showed that women on statins had decreased breast cancer risk, some showed increased risk, and most showed no association. These were all relatively short-term studies, though. “Long-term” statin use was defined as mostly just three to five years, but breast cancer can take decades to grow. The one study that looked at ten or more years of statin use only included 62 cases.

Given the increase in statin use over the past few decades, and the fact that they’re commonly prescribed to be taken every day for the rest of women’s lives, the studies published to date only had limited ability to evaluate the impact of long durations of use. We better figure this out: about one in four women over 45 in this country are on these drugs.

But that all changed with the publication of a study last year including thousands of breast cancer cases. Long term statin users—women taking statins for ten years or more—had more than double the risk of both major types of breast cancer: invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. Once women do get breast cancer, though, recent studies in Finland and the UK suggest statin use may improve survival.

The number one killer of women is heart disease, not breast cancer, so we still do need to bring down cholesterol levels. Might there be a way to get the benefits of cholesterol reduction without the risks? Plant-based diets have been shown to lower LDL-cholesterol by over 30%, within just a couple weeks, equivalent to most of the standard cholesterol lowering statin drugs and without any known breast cancer risk.

As drugs go, statins are remarkably safe, but they can still present rare but serious side effects in both men and women (Statin Muscle Toxicity).

There are also some foods that can help lower cholesterol levels:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of DeathMore Than an Apple a Day, and From Table to Able.

Related:
Breast Cancer Survival Vegetable
Breast Cancer Risk: Red Wine vs. White Wine
Flaxseeds & Breast Cancer Survival

59 comments

J B.
James B2 years ago

http://www.naturalnews.com/048213_statin_drugs_brain_function_memory_problems.html

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J B.
James B2 years ago

Another amazing example of how this site frequently sells their soul to the pharmaceutical mafia~!! Interesting contradiction though, Care2 had an article June 16th of last year 2013, where statins were associated with an INCREASED CANCER RISK!! There is NO empirical evidence, correlation, or circumstantial connection, to egregiously and progressively debilitating statin drugs accomplishing nothing more than destroying the human body’s ability to produce necessary immunity and cholesterol upon which our nervous system and brain function depend. Associating another scandalous poison like statins with any legitimate health benefit is clearly contrived, especially with cancer, given there is no correlation with cholesterol as a determining factor of cancer incidence. Interesting how in fact the incidence of cancer continues to increase dramatically through our society, over a similar period of time statins and other toxins have been disseminated across the population. Of course, pharmaceutical prostitutes like this and others will never acknowledge the direct correlation to the incidence of statin ingestion worsening the exploding epidemic of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Statins are a medical fraud aggressively propagandized across every sell-out media channel and communication venue which will take the advertising pay-off, a pittance from the tens of billions the pharmaceuticals are raking in through a gullible sucker public~!!!

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Jane Davidson
Jane Davidson2 years ago

After I got off of gluten and wheat products, my lipid panel was perfect after 3 weeks so I discontinued the statin drug.

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you

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Julie D.
Julie D2 years ago

Statins are extremely dangerous and harmful drugs. They cause the break down of muscle tissue, hence the common side effects of severe muscle cramps and abnormal levels of blood in the urine. Another very common side effect is contracting Type II Diabetes. The heart is also a muscle, if Statins are breaking down muscle tissue they are also breaking down the heart muscle. How can this poison be protecting the heart while destroying it and causing other horrible disease such as diabetes? They are poison, avoid them at all costs. There are other more natural ways to treat too high cholesterol levels that are much safer and more effective.

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Magdalena J.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you!

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Roslyn McBride
Roslyn McBride2 years ago

ty

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Manuela C.
Manuela C2 years ago

Here's a thought: high cholesterol is not a disease!!! Why treat a non disease? Well, people at pharmaceutical labs needed to to expand the market, so they "invented" reasons for healthy people needing to take drugs: "risk factors" (that are only statistical data, not real risks - you may have a risk factor and never have a bad outcome and you can not have a risk factor and still have the bad outcome)! And we "treat" them, just because!

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