The last time I went for a physical my cholesterol numbers were on the high side, so my doctor wanted me to come back in a few months for more blood work. That was a year ago, and I have not gone back yet. High cholesterol runs on one side of my family but given that I have no other risk factors, I thought the initial number was probably a fluke. However, after hearing about a new study from the Duke Cancer Institute, it looks like I will be calling for a follow up appointment, ASAP.
Watch your cholesterol, ladies! Especially if you have a family history of breast cancer. Apparently high cholesterol can do even more than damage your heart. The hormone estrogen feeds an estimated 75% of all breast cancers, and initial research shows that a byproduct of cholesterol acts like estrogen in the body, fueling the growth of the most common types of breast cancers. In addition, according to the CDC, almost one third of women in the U.S. (31%) have high LDL cholesterol, putting them at a potentially higher risk for breast cancer.
The good news about this new study is that we may now know that one way to reduce the risk of breast cancer is by keeping high cholesterol at bay. If you are interested in keeping your cholesterol in check, a good way to start is by avoiding foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fats, such as: red meats, whole milk, butter and fried foods. There are also foods which help lower cholesterol, including: oats, barley, beans, eggplant, okra, nuts, apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits like oranges. Consuming foods that are high in fiber are a good idea as well. Today many companies are also fortifying foods with sterols and stanols that help in the fight against high cholesterol. Studies also show that following a Mediterranean diet can lower cholesterol levels.
Beyond controlling your diet, other ways to keep high cholesterol at bay include not smoking and getting regular exercise. Fortunately for those who have a family history of high cholesterol, the researchers also found that cholesterol medications such as statins appear to reduce the influence that high cholesterol has on the spread of breast cancer.
So I am headed back to the doctor to get my cholesterol checked. What about you? Do you know whether or not you have high cholesterol?