Study: Cholesterol Could Aid in Fight against Cancers

Research & Clinical Trials
Reading Time: 3 mins
Publication Date: 05/15/2012
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Reviewed is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us


"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating

How to Cite’s Article


Povtak, T. (2022, August 2). Study: Cholesterol Could Aid in Fight against Cancers. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from


Povtak, Tim. "Study: Cholesterol Could Aid in Fight against Cancers.", 2 Aug 2022,


Povtak, Tim. "Study: Cholesterol Could Aid in Fight against Cancers." Last modified August 2, 2022.

Cholesterol normally carries a negative connotation, a necessary evil in cells and a major cause of heart disease, creating a billion dollar industry of specialization and pharmaceutical products to combat the problem.

But now scientists are discovering another side of cholesterol, as a possible way to help fight difficult cancers like mesothelioma. It could lead to much-needed novel treatments, particularly for mesothelioma, which has no cure and usually comes with a poor prognosis.

Christopher Beh, an associate professor in the Biochemistry Department at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, has specialized in studying cholesterol in his laboratory, hoping to better understand its impact on cell growth and human health.

He and three other scientists concluded recently that cholesterol, when manipulated, can slow or stop the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

According to a news release from Simon Fraser University, the scientists originally were trying to understand how cholesterol moves around inside individual cells and reinforces their outer membranes.

The most recent study uncovered a surprising mechanism in which a specific class of cholesterol-binding proteins (ORPs) determined the direction and shape of cells that were defective in metastasizing cancers.

The researchers discovered that after genetic changes were made to the ORPs, they no longer binded to the cholesterol but continued to function and move around the cells. The altered ORPs also sparked other proteins that led to cell growth.

“First, cancer cells require ORPs to survive,” Beh said. “Second, other scientists have previously shown that a new class of natural components that look like steroids or cholesterol can kill a broad spectrum of different cancer cells.”

Beh said the next step for his team will be to determine exactly which proteins will respond to ORP activation and exactly what circumstances does cholesterol turn off ORP’s activation of them.

“Given that uncontrolled cell growth is a key feature in cancer, this means gaining a better understanding of the true purpose of cholesterol binding within cells, could be important in cancer treatment,” Beh said.

Mesothelioma is relevant to his research because it has been resistant to many traditional therapies that are unable to stop the growth of tumors. Mesothelioma, which is caused almost exclusively from an exposure to asbestos fibers, often is not diagnosed until it already has spread through the thin lining surrounding the lungs or heart.

It is diagnosed in an estimated 3,000 patients annually.

blue medical health symbol
Connect with a Mesothelioma Doctor
Find a Top Specialist Near You