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Good cholesterol lowers bowel cancer risk

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The higher the level of good cholesterol a person has, the lower their chances may be of developing bowel cancer, researchers have said.

Higher concentrations of good cholesterol may help the body deal with inflammation more effectively. Good cholesterol (high density lipoprotien cholesterol) collect excess cholesterol from the blood and take it to the liver to be broken down.

A new study, part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, used data on 520,000 people from 10 countries.

Around 1,200 of them developed bowel cancer as the research was being carried out. The scientists compared them with another 1,200 people who did not have the cancer to see what the differences between the groups were.

After factor adjustments, people with the highest levels of good cholesterol, and another blood fat called apolipoprotein A (a component of good cholesterol), were found to be the least likely to develop bowel cancer.

The researchers said each rise of 16.6 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl) in good cholesterol and of 32 mg/dl in apoA reduced the risk of bowel cancer by 22% and 18% respectively.

The beneficial effect was confined to cancers of the colon and not those of the rectum.

Quitting smoking, losing weight and frequent exercise are known to increase the amount of good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol levels.

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