Researchers analyzed the health data of 2,400 participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study and found a correlation between high levels of healthy HDL cholesterol and a lower risk of bowel cancer.
Individuals with the highest levels of HDL cholesterol were about 20 percent less likely to have the disease, even after the authors adjusted for diet, weight and lifestyle.
The effect may be explained by the fact that HDL has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, and chronic inflammation is associated with the development of cancer, the study authors noted.
The Mayo Clinic has reported that lifestyle habits like exercise, healthy diet, non-smoking status and drinking alcohol only in moderation may influence healthy cholesterol levels. Additionally, whole grains, nuts, omega-3 fatty acids and plant sterols — like those found in certain margarines — may also help individuals increase HDL cholesterol levels.
The institution also recommends requesting a cholesterol screening from a healthcare provider if an individual is unsure about their current level, since high LDL cholesterol has been linked to various chronic illnesses, like cardiovascular disease.