Published in the “American Journal of Pathology,” a new study used mice to see if fat and cholesterol were involved in breast cancer development. The results show that mice fed a Western diet and predisposed to develop breast tumors can develop larger tumors that grow faster and spread more easily than animals on a control diet.
While such results will need to be verified in human studies, it is another major reason to watch your cholesterol levels. And to believe that diet is linked to cancer.
Breast cancer is five times more common in Western countries than in other developed countries. Plus, there is an increase in breast cancer rates among immigrants who come to the U.S. from other countries with low incidence. The suggestion here is clear.
In the study, they used a mouse model that is believed to closely mimic the same way human breast cancer develops. The mice were put on a diet with 21.2% fat and 0.2% cholesterol, which reflects a typical Western diet. Another control group of mice had normal food with 4.5% fat and little cholesterol.
They found that tumors began to develop quickly in mice in the high-fat group. The number of tumors nearly doubled, and they were 50% larger than those in mice on a normal diet. What this means is that a Western diet seems to accelerate the onset of breast cancer, helps the cancer multiply and spread, and makes its overall burden far worse. There was also a trend towards an increased number of lung tumors in mice fed the fatty diet.
To confirm that the cancer was more aggressive amid a high-cholesterol diet, the study found certain evidence that showed a more advanced cancer stage in the mice. What is happening is that the cholesterol is acting as the foundation to help tumors grow. Cholesterol comes from the blood, and it mainly enters your body through saturated fat.
For this and many other reasons, it’s important to get your cholesterol levels checked. And if you are at a heightened risk of breast cancer, pay particular attention to your diet. We would all do well to protect against cancer in whatever ways we can.