Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Potluri: Study was conducted by a retrospective analysis of more than 1 million anonymous patient records across the UK between 2000 and 2013 using the Algorithm for Comorbidities, Associations, Length of stay and Mortality (ACALM) protocol.
There were 664,159 women and of these, 22 938 had hyperlipidaemia and 9 312 had breast cancer. Some 530 women with hyperlipidaemia developed breast cancer. A statistical model to study the association between hyperlipidaemia and breast cancer. They found that having hyperlipidaemia increased the risk of breast cancer by 1.64 times (95% confidence interval 1.50-1.79).
Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Potluri: No. A recent paper published in Science magazine suggested a link for high cholesterol and breast cancer in mice and various other studies have suggested a link between obesity and breast cancer. In this context, which these results are interesting, they are not unexpected.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Potluri: This is a very preliminary study and further research is required before anything can be confirmed. However, 10-15 years down the line, if further prospective studies confirm these findings, there is the the possibility for the trial of interventions to lower cholesterol in the management of breast cancer. These include lifestyle modifications and medications such as statins. However, at this time point, the advise would be the same as it is currently, lead an active lifestyle, exercise and ensure cholesterol is well controlled.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Potluri: A prospective study that monitors the risk of breast cancer in women with and without high cholesterol is needed to confirm what we observed. If the connection between high cholesterol and breast cancer is validated, the next step would be to see if lowering cholesterol with interventions such as lifestyle modifications or statins can reduce the risk of developing cancer.