Author(s): Eichholzer M, Sthelin HB, Gutzwiller F, Ldin E, Bernasconi F
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Low serum cholesterol has been associated with an increased risk of cancer mortality in various studies, which has led to uncertainty regarding the benefit of lower blood cholesterol. OBJECTIVE: The aim of our study was to evaluate the association between low blood cholesterol (<5.16 mmol/L) and cancer at sites that have rarely been evaluated. We placed special emphasis on the potential confounding effect of antioxidant vitamins. DESIGN: Plasma concentrations of cholesterol and antioxidant vitamins were measured in 1971-1973 in 2974 men working in Basel, Switzerland. In 1990, the vital status of all participants was assessed. RESULTS: Two hundred ninety of the participants had died from cancer, 87 from lung, 30 from prostate, 28 from stomach, and 22 from colon cancer. Group means for plasma cholesterol concentrations did not differ significantly between survivors and those who died from cancer at any of the studied sites. With plasma cholesterol, vitamins C and E, retinol, carotene, smoking, and age accounted for in a Cox model, an increase in total cancer mortality in lung, prostate, and colon but not in stomach cancer mortality was observed in men >60 y of age with low plasma cholesterol. When data from the first 2 y of follow-up were excluded from the analysis, the relative risk estimates remained practically unchanged with regard to lung cancer but decreased for colon, prostate, and overall cancer. CONCLUSIONS: Increased cancer mortality risks associated with low plasma cholesterol were not explained by the confounding effect of antioxidant vitamins, but were attributed in part to the effect of preexisting cancer.
This article was published in Am J Clin Nutr
and referenced in Journal of Molecular Biomarkers & Diagnosis