Breast Cancer and Cholesterol – Good News for Vegetarians!

breast cancer 6Doctors have recently found an important clue to solving the problem of preventing and reversing breast cancer. For years they noticed that women taking statin drugs lowered their risk of breast cancer as well, but they didn’t know why. But now the answer has been found, and another advantage that vegetarians have, in lowering their risk for breast cancer, becomes clearer.

Most breast cancers are sensitive to estrogen, which can stimulate their growth. It turns out that as the body metabolizes or breaks down cholesterol so that it can be eliminated, a substance called 27Hydroxycholesterol, or 27HC for short, is produced in abundant amounts. Scientists have now discovered that 27HC acts like estrogen in promoting breast cancer and its spread throughout the body.

This also explains why estrogen-blocking drugs such as Tamoxifen sometimes fail to be effective. It’s because often the person has high cholesterol, which produces high levels of 27HC which promotes the cancer.

The good news is that high cholesterol is something every woman can do something about. Rather than trying to develop a drug to block 27HC, the doctors at Duke University presented a more practical idea for breast cancer patients. That is, they recommended they reduce their cholesterol levels through diet.

Naturally, lowering cholesterol levels through diet modifications may not only help keep levels of 27HC in check, it may also improve risk factors for heart disease. And since research suggests that many breast cancer patients actually die from cardiovascular disease, lowering elevated cholesterol levels through diet is a great choice for heart health as well!

Vegetarians and vegans are at lower risk of breast cancer in the first place and this may be one of the reasons why. In fact, studies show that vegetarians have a much lower cholesterol than average and vegans have levels even lower than that. Added to this are the higher intakes of fruits and vegetables, which have been shown to lower cancer risk as well. It turns out again and again that cutting out meat and other animal products is the best way to eat for so many health considerations.


About Vegetarians of Washington

Vegetarians of Washington is a large non-profit vegetarian society based in Seattle, WA. We encourage people to discover the advantages and experience the pleasures of vegetarian food. We welcome everyone, whether you're an experienced vegetarian, a beginner or just curious. You don't have to be a vegetarian to join our organization, or to follow our blog! We run the largest vegetarian food festival in the country, Seattle's Vegfest, held in the Seattle Center in March each year. We also host monthly dining events and give free nutrition and cooking classes. We've written several nationally published books, including our latest book "In Pursuit of Great Food: A Plant-based shopping guide", which provides valuable information on what to buy and how to choose great food. Our other books include "Say No to Meat" which gives the information and real-world advice that new vegetarians need the most, in an easy question-and-answer style, the fact-filled "The Vegetarian Solution", and a wide range of delicious recipes in "The Veg-Feasting Cookbook". All our books are available in local bookstores, and via our website or


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