Cholesterol May Spur Breast Cancer Growth

iStock/Thinkstock(DURHAM, N.C.) — A cholesterol by-product can fuel tumors and the spread of breast cancer, according to scientists at Duke Cancer Institute in North Carolina.

Obesity has been previously linked to cancer, but new research shows cholesterol can mimic the effects of particular hormones and drive cancer growth.

The study, which was published in the journal Science, tracked a molecule called 27-hydroxycholestrol, or 27HC, using experiments on mice, the Washington Post reports.

27HC is a by-product of cholesterol and once its levels increase, the spread of tumors also increases.

Preventing the formation of the molecule in the special breast cancer mice delayed the appearance of the first tumor by 50 days, according to the Washington Post, and the mice lived an average of 40 percent longer when it was inhibited.

Researchers say the newly found information can support the idea that lowering cholesterol can lower the risk of breast cancer, though they are still looking into the addition of statins in cancer therapy.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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