Controlling Bad Cholesterol Could Prevent the Growth of Tumors

Reducing cancer cell’s access to LDL and LDL could prevent tumor growth.

A new study published in Cell Reports found that very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) help fuel tumor growth. Tumors can also stimulate the body to produce more of these lipids known as “bad cholesterol.”

In order for a tumor to grow, the cancer cells need lipids. They either make their own or they can signal the body to secrete the lipids, thus helping the cancer grow.

Instead of proteins clearing lipids from the blood, it is now left for the cancer cells to feed off of.

Researchers hypothesize that the less LDL the liver produces, the less the tumor will be able to grow.

In pre-clinical models, this hypothesis was successful. Researchers were able to lower tumor development through regulation of proteins and uptake of LDL by receptors from the liver.

The researchers plan to add existing medications that help limit the production of cholesterol into the current therapies of patients diagnosed with cancer.

"There are medications approved that we can test," said lead researcher Richard Lehner. "They were not developed for cancer, they were manufactured for people with hypercholesterolemia [chronic condition where patients have very high level of cholesterol in their blood], but it will be interesting for us to test them with cancer patients and see if there is improvement."

An improved method to treat patients diagnosed with cancer could be developed if clinical trials are proven to be effective, the study concluded.