Does High Cholesterol Cause Breast Cancer?


You know that estrogen plays a role in some breast cancers. You may also know that the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone originally are created in the ovary, testis and adrenal gland by metabolizing cholesterol.

You may not know that an intermediate of cholesterol metabolism occurs in a type of blood cell called macrophages. It’s called 27-Hydroxycholesterol and it attaches to the same estrogen receptors (like a key in a lock) on mouse breast tissue as estrogen does.

Do these cholesterol molecules put women at more risk of breast cancer? Or does it attach to the breast estrogen receptor and block estrogen from stimulating cancer? Will it be a way to target treatments that help rid of breast cancer?

We don’t know. It’s the topic of a discussion in the New England Journal of Medicine. Additional studies will now begin to look for how much of this 27-Hydroxycholesterol is inside breast tumors and that may lead to a very helpful new way to treat breast cancer.

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