LDL Cholesterol Tied to Increased Cancer Risk in Diabetics

Using these levels as markers could help clinicians better treat patients, Chinese study finds

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MONDAY, Aug. 25, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Low or high levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of cancer in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a Chinese study that noted the increasing evidence of an association between type 2 diabetes and cancer risk.

The study included 6,107 diabetes patients. None of the patients were taking cholesterol-lowering statins.

The researchers found that LDL levels below 2.80 mmol/L were associated with an increased risk of cancers of the digestive organs and peritoneum, genital and urinary organs, and lymphatic and blood tissues. LDL levels above 3.80 mmol/L were associated with increased risk of oral, digestive, bone, skin, connective tissue and breast cancers.

The findings suggest "the use of these levels as risk markers may help clinicians to assess their patients more fully and thus to prevent premature deaths in patients who have high risk," wrote the team from the Hong Kong Institute of Diabetes and Obesity, the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences and The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The researchers recommended a re-analysis of data from clinical trials to confirm or refute their findings.

Confounding factors such as lifestyle, socioeconomic status and indication for use of statins need to be considered when examining the association between LDL levels and cancer risk, Drs. Frank Hu and Eric Ding of the Harvard School of Public Health, wrote in an accompanying commentary.

"Low serum cholesterol is commonly observed in individuals with ill health (e.g., cancer patients) and those with unhealthy lifestyle characteristics such as smoking and heavy drinking," they noted.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about diabetes.

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal, news release, Aug. 25, 2008

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