Elevated cholesterol levels may be linked to prostate cancer

April 20, 2006

High cholesterol levels appear to be related to prostate cancer, and the association may be somewhat stronger in men diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia before 50 years of age and in those older than 65 years, according to a study by Italian researchers

High cholesterol levels appear to be related to prostate cancer, and the association may be somewhat stronger in men diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia before 50 years of age and in those older than 65 years, according to a study by Italian researchers. Gallstones were also directly, although not significantly, related to prostate cancer risk, according to the study, which is scheduled for publication in the Annals of Oncology.

The case-control study was conducted between 1991 and 2002 and included 1,294 cases under the age of 75 years with incident histologically confirmed prostate cancer who were admitted to major general and teaching hospitals. Controls were 1,451 men under the age of 75 years admitted to the same hospitals for a wide spectrum of acute, non-neoplastic conditions.

Questionnaires were used to obtain information on sociodemographic factors, lifestyle habits, and family history of cancer. The questionnaire also included a self-reported history of approximately 10 non-malignant conditions, including hypercholesterolemia and gallstones, and the corresponding age at first diagnosis or treatment.

After allowance for major confounding factors, a direct association was observed between prostate cancer and hypercholesterolemia (OR=1.51; 95% CI 1.23 to 1.85; p<.0001). An excess risk of prostate cancer, although not significant, was also observed for gallstones (OR=1.26; 95% CI 0.93 to 1.70). Similar increased risks were found according to age at first diagnosis of hypercholesterolemia and gallstones.

In older subjects, the direct association with hypercholesterolemia was stronger than in younger men (OR=1.80 vs. OR=1.32). No meaningful differences were observed according to age for gallstones.