According to a study carried out at the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri Milan, Italy, men who have high (bad) cholesterol levels have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. The scientists said more research is needed after carrying out a study on 2,745 men - of whom 1,294 had prostate cancer, while the rest had non-cancerous conditions for which they went to hospital.

The study found that men with prostate cancer have a 50% higher probability of having raised cholesterol levels. For those men under 50 and over 65 the likelihood of raised cholesterol levels was 80%.

While the Italian researchers think that the reason for the higher prostate cancer risk may be because the body produces more hormones when cholesterol levels are higher (cholesterol us utilized to make more hormones), many experts disagree.

Those who disagreed pointed to diet, which can affect cholesterol levels and prostate cancer risk (indicating that perhaps diet raises prostate cancer risk as well as high cholesterol levels). Incidences of prostate cancer are higher in northern Europe, where men consumer more animal fats, than southern Europe, where men consume more plant based fats, such as olive oil. Cholesterol levels are lower in southern Europe.

In Other Words

Some believe diet may be raising prostate cancer levels and cholesterol levels independently.

An extreme analogy

Imagine every car in the country had to have a blue flag on top. And then a scientist notices that more people die when they are near blue flags and concludes that blue flags may be killing people. Others may disagree and say that the cars make the blue flags move and raise the risk of human deaths (car accidents) independently. (Obviously, in this case, the conclusions of both: those who think cholesterol is causing the cancer and those who think diet is, are valid - until further research is carried out.)

Rather than checking the participants themselves, the researchers used data sent to them from the participants.

The link between high cholesterol and prostate cancer risk is evident, say the scientist. They also checked for several other medical conditions and found no link.

You can read about this study in the Annals of Oncology

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