Cancer :: Cancer Prevention News Tips

The following are based on abstracts presented at the American Association for Cancer Research?s Fifth Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research held November 12 ? 15 in Boston.


Men with lower cholesterol are less likely to experience high-grade prostate cancer – an aggressive form of the disease with poor prognosis. Johns Hopkins epidemiologists, in a prospective study of U.S. men, say lower blood levels of the heart-clogging fat may reduce a man’s risk of this form of cancer by one-third.

Cholesterol, often stored in tumors, may change the structure of fatty cell membranes to produce signals that influence cancer cell growth and survival.

In the study, Elizabeth Platz, Sc.D., M.P.H., epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Kimmel Cancer Center and her colleagues compared a group of 698 men with prostate cancer to an equal number with no evidence of the disease. All participants were part of Harvard’s Health Professionals Follow-up Study. There were no differences in blood cholesterol levels in either group when matched up to the incidence of low-grade disease. But men with higher levels of blood cholesterol were one-third less likely to get high-grade cancers that tend to spread and grow faster.

Platz and her colleagues previously linked lower risk of advanced prostate cancer to men taking cholesterol-lowering statin-drugs. “These two studies suggest that we may be able to prevent dangerous prostate cancers by tampering with cholesterol metabolism,” she added.

This study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Co-authors include Steven K. Clinton from Ohio State University and Edward Giovannucci from Harvard University.


Searing meats in on open-flame grills or with other forms of direct heat creates tasty bits of char but also carcinogens called heterocyclic amines or HCA. Now, researchers have found that aspirin may reduce the cancer-causing effects of flame-broiled foods in women who eat the seared meats often.

In a study of 312 women with breast cancer and 316 cancer-free study subjects, women who reported eating flame-broiled food more than twice a month were 1.7 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who never ate them.

Breast cancer risk was further increased in those who ate flame-broiled foods more than twice a month and had genetic traits that helped them rapidly metabolize enzymes called N-acetyltransferases that are often found in the gut, liver and breast. The digested enzymes activate the cancer-causing HCAs.

?We also found that within the highest risk group, women who reported using aspirin significantly reduced their breast cancer risk to the same levels as those who never ate flame-broiled foods,? says Johns Hopkins epidemiologist and oncologist Kala Visvanathan, M.D., M.H.S., who is the first author of the study.

The researchers say further lab work to better understand the biological connection between aspirin, flame-broiled foods, and breast cancer.

To cut HCA exposure, experts suggest marinating meat, frequently flipping it while cooking, or microwaving it.

Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

This study is based in the CLUE Cohorts of Washington County Maryland and the participants of this research are part of the CLUE 2 cohort. In addition to Visvanathan, authors include K. J. Helzlsouer from Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore; X. You, S.C. Hoffman and P.T. Strickland at Johns Hopkins; D. Bell from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; and A.J. Alberg from the Medical University of South Carolina.

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