Medical researchers identify the role of family history in the link between blood lipids and oesophageal cancer

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Fat biomolecules in the blood, called “serum lipids,” are necessary evils. They play important roles in the lipid metabolism and are integral for the normal functioning of the body.

However, they have a darker side; according to several studies, they are associated with various cancers. The medical community has fathoms to go before truly understanding the implications of different serum lipid levels in cancer.

As a major step in this direction, a group of scientists from the Key Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Translational Research, Laboratory of Genetics, Peking University Cancer Hospital and Institute; Hua County People’s Hospital; and Anyang Cancer Hospital, China, have successfully determined that a family history of oesophageal cancer modifies the association between serum lipids and risk of developing cancerous oesophageal lesions, according to a pioneering study published in Chinese Medical Journal.

Many individuals undergo routine lipid profile checkups, but most people and doctors only focus on the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and unwittingly fail to look deeper into the results.

What if the change in serum lipid levels is a sign of the risk of having malignant oesophageal lesions?

To answer this question, Chinese medical researchers analysed data from the “Endoscopic Screening for Oesophageal Cancer in China” trial.

The trial included analysis of serum lipids like total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol from 211 individuals with malignant oesophageal lesions, and 2101 “control” individuals who didn’t have the lesion.

Although the team’s initial analysis of data showed that there is no consistent association between serum lipid levels and risk of developing malignant oesophageal lesions, a simple family history check (and deeper analysis) told a different story.

Particularly for cases with a family history of oesophageal cancer, high levels of TC and LDL-C were linked to a significantly higher risk of developing malignant oesophageal lesions.

Also, when such family history was not identified, there was a notable negative association between the same parameters. Better to know late, than never, right?

Professor Yang Ke from Key Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Translational Research, Laboratory of Genetics, Peking University Cancer Hospital and Institute, Beijing, who is also one of the lead scientists of the study, thinks so.

In this regard, Professor Ke jubilantly says, “We found that the association of serum lipids and malignant oesophageal lesions might be modified by oesophageal cancer family history. This finding provides population-level evidence in research at the interface of serum lipid biology and oesophageal carcinogenesis.”

Further, the findings of this study shed light on the importance of considering a ‘stratified’ analysis on such population-based studies. A relevant example is a stratification this study proposes, in terms of those with and without oesophageal cancer family history.

This stratification helped the researchers have a better understanding of the data from the trial considered. Moreover, Dr. Meng-Fei Liu, from Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Translational Research, and the other corresponding author of this study, thinks that this research is far from its endpoint.

He says, “The stratified analysis would be crucial for population-based studies investigating the association of serum lipids and cancer. However, the mechanism by which a family history of oesophageal cancer modifies this association warrants further investigation.”

Overall, this study has paved the way for a better understanding of the role of serum lipids in oesophageal carcinogenesis in cases involving oesophageal cancer family history.

While the medical community continues to look for further advances, which could be translated into future clinical applications in such population-based cancer research, this study has definitely given us much to think about; the signs of cancer may be in our blood, in more ways than one!


Source: CACTUS Communications

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The ONA Editor curates oncology news, views and reviews from Australia and around the world for our readers. In aggregated content, original sources will be acknowledged in the article footer.

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