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Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides may increase the risk for prostate cancer recurrence

October 10, 2014

PHILADELPHIA -- Higher levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides, two types of fat, in the blood of men who underwent surgery for prostate cancer, were associated with increased risk for disease recurrence, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"While laboratory studies support an important role for cholesterol in prostate cancer, population-based evidence linking cholesterol and prostate cancer is mixed," said Emma Allott, PhD, postdoctoral associate at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. "Understanding associations between obesity, cholesterol, and prostate cancer is important given that cholesterol levels are readily modifiable with diet and/or statin use, and could therefore have important, practical implications for prostate cancer prevention and treatment.

"Our findings suggest that normalization, or even partial normalization, of serum lipid levels among men with dyslipidemia [abnormal lipid profile] may reduce the risk of prostate cancer recurrence," said Allott.

Allott, Stephen Freedland, MD, associate professor of surgery at Duke University School of Medicine, and colleagues, analyzed data from 843 men who underwent radical prostatectomy after a prostate cancer diagnosis and who never took statins before surgery. They found that those who had serum triglyceride levels of 150 mg/dL or higher had a 35 percent increased risk for prostate cancer recurrence, when compared with patients who had normal levels of triglycerides. Among those with abnormal blood lipid profile, for every 10 mg/dL increase in total serum cholesterol above 200 mg/dL, there was a 9 percent increased risk for prostate cancer recurrence.

For every 10 mg/dL increase in high density lipoprotein (HDL; known as "good" cholesterol) among men with abnormal HDL (below the desirable value of 40 mg/dL), the risk for prostate cancer recurrence was lowered by 39 percent.

"Given that 45 percent of deaths worldwide can be attributed to cardiovascular disease and cancer, with prostate cancer being the second most common cause of male cancer deaths in the United States, understanding the role of dyslipidemia as a shared, modifiable risk factor for both of these common causes of mortality is of great importance," she added.

Study subjects were identified from the Shared Equal Access Regional Cancer Hospital (SEARCH) database and treated at one of the six Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in California, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Of the 843 men studied, 343 were black, 325 had abnormal cholesterol levels, 263 had abnormal triglyceride levels, and 293 had a biochemical recurrence, defined as rising PSA levels after prostate cancer treatment, indicating the recurrence of the patient's prostate cancer.
This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Allott and Freedland declare no conflicts of interest.

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Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 35,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in 97 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with over 18,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit

To interview Emma Allott, contact Sarah Avery at or 919-660-1306. For other inquiries, contact Jeremy Moore at or 215-446-7109.

American Association for Cancer Research

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