Starve cancer cells with cholesterol

Cholesterol is a controversial topic in the health community. For years, cholesterol was portrayed as a dietary villain maliciously ruining your heart and stealing your health.

But then, after all those years spent avoiding otherwise healthy foods like eggs and taking dangerous drugs like statins, it turned out the science vilifying cholesterol was not all it was cracked up to be…

New research emerged showing that not all cholesterol was bad after all, and, more importantly, that certain types of cholesterol can improve your health.

Cholesterol can be confusing from a health perspective because there are several types. One type, HDL, is very beneficial to your body… other types, like LDL and VLDL, not so much.

Ironically, high levels of HDL cholesterol actually protect the body from heart disease, the very disease that mainstream medicine claimed cholesterol caused for years. They also decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s, depression and stroke.

High levels of LDL cholesterol, on the other hand, cause inflammation in your body and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. And if that’s not enough, recent research also suggests that LDL and VLDL cholesterol feed tumors.

Researchers from the University of Alberta found that tumor cells grow by scavenging for very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). In fact, LDL and VLDL are actually the building blocks of cancer cells.

But that’s not all. Not only do tumors need LDL and VLDL cholesterol to grow, but tumors actually cause the body to produce more of these bad cholesterols, creating something researchers call a feed-forward loop.

“Cancer cells need lipids to grow. They can make their own lipids or get more from the host because these cells grow so fast,” said Richard Lehner, professor of Pediatrics and investigator at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. “The tumor signals to the liver: ‘I need more cholesterol for growth’ and the liver is reprogrammed to secrete those lipids.”

So clearly minimizing your body’s levels of bad cholesterol should be at the top of your to-do list. But you may be wondering how you maximize the good and banish the bad when it comes to cholesterol.

First of all statins may not help. After all, if cancer can call on the liver to secrete more cholesterol, then drugs may not help you avoid the disease.

Instead, try to increase your HDL as high as you can so there’s not so much of the LDL and VLDL for the cancer cells to feed on. One way to do this is to eliminate trans fats from your diet because they make just the opposite happen: they not only raise your bad cholesterol levels, but they also lower your good cholesterol levels, making your body a breeding ground for disease.

Trans fats are found mostly in processed foods and are often listed on nutrition labels under the aliases “partially hydrogenated oil” or “shortening.” Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — found in olive, peanut and canola oils — tend to improve HDL’s anti-inflammatory abilities, so choose these fats instead.

You can also up your intake of plant sterols and dietary fiber, both of which reduce your body’s LDL levels, quit smoking (if you do) and get about 30 minutes of brisk exercise daily to boost your HDL.

Editor’s note: Considering cholesterol in the fight against cancer is something that integrative doctors, like Dr. Michael Cutler, author of Surviving Cancer, won’t close their eyes to. According to Dr. Cutler there are 10 cancer-fighting nutrients you can supplement with if you have any doubts about your diet keeping you cancer free, including resveratrol and omega-3 fatty acids. To learn more click here — and get your copy of his ultimate cancer guide, plus three free reports.



Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and