NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People with very low cholesterol levels seem to be at increased risk of developing stomach cancer, Japanese researchers report.
Some studies have linked low cholesterol levels to higher death rates from cancer in general, Dr. Kouichi Asano, of Kyushu University, Fukuoka, and colleagues explain in the International Journal of Cancer. “With respect to gastric cancer, a limited number of studies suggest this inverse association, while others do not.”
The researcher looked into this in a study involving some 2,600 residents of Hisayama, Japan, who were followed for 14 years.
Gastric cancers developed in 97 subjects. After accounting for age and gender, stomach cancer rates rose significantly with descending cholesterol level. For example, among subjects with the highest cholesterol levels, the gastric cancer rate was the equivalent of 2.1 cases per 1000 persons per year; among those with the lowest cholesterol, the rate was 3.9 per 1000 person-years.
“Our data suggest that patients with low serum cholesterol should consider regular gastro-intestinal examination for the prevention of gastric cancer,” the investigators conclude.
SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, February 15, 2008.