Women’s Cancer Linked to Cholesterol Problems

Endometrial cancer survivors frequently have high triglycerides

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) You may already know that high overall cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. What you might not know is that survivors of some cancers may be more prone to having high amounts of fat in their blood.

A new study has discovered that endometrial (lining of the uterus) cancer survivors were more likely to have cholesterol problems than women who never had the disease.

In addition to removing the uterus, the standard treatment for this cancer is the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes — a surgery known as bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO).

This study pointed out that endometrial cancer survivors need to monitor their cholesterol levels carefully to prevent cardiovascular disease.

"Talk to your doctor about cholesterol testing."

Akira Hirasawa, PhD, a researcher in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the School of Medicine of Keio University in Tokyo, Japan, led this study.

The authors noted that previous studies have demonstrated an association between endometrial cancer and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions including obesity, high blood pressure, high fasting glucose (blood sugar) and dyslipidemia (abnormal levels of cholesterol and blood fats).

Metabolic syndrome is a major risk factor for both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

This study looked specifically at dyslipidemia among 693 women who had had their ovaries and fallopian tubes surgically removed.

Of this group, 412 women had endometrial cancer (EC) and 281 women without a history of cancer (non-EC) served as controls.

The women were divided into two groups: those who were premenopausal and those who were postmenopausal at the time of the surgery.

The BSO premenopausal group included 169 women with no history of endometrial cancer and 181 endometrial cancer survivors. The postmenopausal BSO group included 112 patients without endometrial cancer and 231 endometrial cancer patients.

Serum (blood) lipid levels were measured.

Lipid levels include high density lipoprotein, or HDL (the “good” cholesterol); low density lipoprotein, or LDL (the “bad” cholesterol); and triglycerides, a measure of fat in the blood.

This study found that high triglycerides were statistically more frequent in endometrial cancer survivors than women without the cancer, regardless of their menopause status at the time of surgery. 

High LDL ("bad") cholesterol and high LDL/HDL ratio were more frequent in endometrial cancer survivors who had had the surgery before menopause than in cancer-free controls. 

“Our report highlights the importance of the relationship between endometrial cancer and lipid metabolism, which may aid in preventing cerebrovascular [blood circulation to the brain] or cardiovascular diseases due to dyslipidemia and improving the quality of life in endometrial cancer survivors,” the authors wrote.

This study was published in the September issue of the Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The research was supported in part by the Foundation for the Promotion of Cancer Research in Japan, The Japan Society for Menopause and Women's Health. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
September 9, 2013
Last Updated:
September 10, 2013