High-cholesterol diets send cancer cells into overdrive and cause tumours to grow 100 times faster, according to new research.
Scientists have shown for the first time the mechanism which means fatty cholesterol significantly increases the risk of colon cancers, opening the door for new drugs which could prevent this.
As well as looking at ways this cancer-boosting pathway could be blocked, researchers from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) who made the discovery are investigating whether other forms of cancer are also sent into similar growth frenzy by high levels of cholesterol.
“We were excited to find that cholesterol influences the growth of stem cells in the intestines, which in turn accelerates the rate of tumour formation by more than 100-fold,” said Dr Peter Tontonoz from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.
”While the connection between dietary cholesterol and colon cancer is well established, no one has previously explained the mechanism behind it.”
Cholesterol is an essential component of the outer membrane of all human cells and is produced in the liver as an essential building block for other key substances.
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