Merlin Griffiths says he is 'doing well' after Bowel cancer diagnosis

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Conducting their study on mice, the researchers found there was an association between a high cholesterol diet and an increased risk of bowel cancer.

They discovered boosting the animal’s cholesterol levels increased the rate at which intestinal stem cells divided.

As a result, this enabled tumours to form 100 times faster.

This was reflected in comments by Doctor Peter Tontonotz of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA which undertook the research.

Doctor Tontonotz wrote: “”We were excited to find that cholesterol influences the growth of stem cells in the intestines, which in turn accelerates the rate of tumor formation by more than 100-fold.

“While the connection between dietary cholesterol and colon cancer is well established, no one has previously explained the mechanism behind it.”

Furthermore, the more cholesterol there was in the diet, the faster the cells divided, accelerating tumour growth and development.

While often associated with heart disease, the study highlights the importance of controlling cholesterol levels not just for these conditions, but for bowel cancer too.

What high cholesterol is

High cholesterol is when the body has too much of the fatty-lipid substance cholesterol.

However, this only applies to one form of cholesterol known as LDL-cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, this forms as a plaque in the arteries, increasing blood pressure.

There are several ways someone can lower their cholesterol levels if they are too high.

How to lower cholesterol

Two of the most common and easiest to access methods of lowering cholesterol are eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

Regular exercise helps to burn off excess weight so there is less stress on the cardiovascular system while a balanced diet full of vitamins and nutrients helps to capitalise on that exercise and allow the body to run more efficiently and get fitter.

Should these methods not work, your GP may put you on a prescription for statins.

This medication works by reducing the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver.

In common with other medicines, there are some side effects to statins.

On this, the NHS says: “Many people who take statins experience no or very few side effects.

“Others experience some side effects, but these are usually minor, such as diarrhoea, a headache or feeling sick.

“Your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of taking statins if they’re offered to you. The risks of any side effects also have to be balanced against the benefits of preventing serious problems.”

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