Cholesterol, Triglycerides and blood sugar

According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center cancer feeds on fats and Glutamine.
Cancer also feeds on glucose according to this study

Lipid levels and cancer survival

Statin drugs can lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Atorvastatin therapy was shown to reduce tumor cell proliferation in patients with primary invasive breast cancer according to this review article published in Clinical Cancer Research.

This study says:
In conclusion, statin users, particularly simvastatin users, had a lower risk of breast cancer related deaths compared to non-users in this nationwide cohort of Swedish women with breast cancer diagnosed after the age of 40.

This study of 29,498 colorectal cancer patients concluded: Statin use at the time of cancer diagnosis is associated with improved overall survival. The benefit of statin use seems to persist regardless of cancer stage, location, and presence of other cardiovascular comorbidities.

The effects of cholesterol on cancer survival for a number of cancers is shown in this study.

Ovarian Cancer
The following excerpts relate to a study presented to the The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR):
The researchers linked data from the Finnish national cancer registry to prescription claims on 10,062 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer between 1995 and 2015 to examine the association between pre- and post-diagnostic statin use and ovarian cancer mortality. Of the 10,062 patients, 2,621 used statins, and 80 percent of those used lipophilic statins. The median age at diagnosis was 62 overall, and 67 among statin users…Use of any statins was associated with a 40 percent reduction in ovarian cancer mortality compared with patients who never used statins. Lipophilic statins specifically were associated with a 43 percent reduction in ovarian cancer mortality.

Women with all subtypes of ovarian cancer experienced a reduction in mortality, but the magnitude of reduction varied. The most significant reductions in mortality occurred in those with high-grade serous carcinoma (40 percent reduction in mortality) and endometrioid ovarian cancer (50 percent reduction in mortality).

Breast and other cancers
This study says: Many clinical studies have demonstrated that statins can influence carcinogenesis and cancer progression. While statins do not affect the incidence of most cancers, they do exert significant benefits on recurrence and survival in many cancer types, including breast cancer. Importantly, statin recurrence and mortality benefits are most strongly seen with lipophilic statins.

This study concluded:
Our study showed that total triglycerides and total cholesterol may serve as potential predictors for overall survival in patients with cervical cancer. Cervical cancer patients may benefit from treatments after adjusting their triglycerides and total cholesterol levels.

This study says:
The associations of serum lipid and lipoprotein levels with the risk of cancer mortality were assessed in 2,753 men and 2,476 women aged 40-79 years at baseline (1972-1976) who participated in the Lipid Research Clinics Program Mortality Follow-up Study through 1984. Seventy-nine cancer deaths occurred in men and 65 occurred in women during an average follow-up time of 8.4 years. Total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol were significantly inversely associated with overall cancer mortality in men, but no relation was observed in women.

The study below shows that lowering cholesterol is what matters and not the use of statins per se.

The Cleveland Clinic says the best exercises to lower cholesterol are: Brisk walks or jogging, Cycling, Swimming, Yoga 

Policosanol – safer than statin
Policosanols are long-chain aliphatic alcohols that are found in natural sources including beeswax and sugar cane.
This study says:…policosanol, a mixture of long-chain aliphatic alcohols extractable from sugar cane wax, has shown cholesterol-lowering potency comparable to that of statins, and yet appears to be devoid of toxic risk.

This study says: Statins have been associated with a decreased cancer mortality. However, cholesterol level as such may modify the risk of cancer death. To clarify the complex interplay between statins, cholesterol level, and cancer mortality, we conducted a comprehensive analysis to separate the effects of cholesterol level and statin medication on cancer mortality. Our study population consisted of 16,924 men participating in the Finnish Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer with at least one cholesterol measurement during follow-up (1996–2017). Cox proportional regression was used to estimate hazard ratios. In total, 1699 cancer deaths were observed during the median follow-up of 19 years. When statins’ association with the risk of cancer death was estimated without adjustment for cholesterol level, statin use was associated with a lowered cancer mortality (HR 0.87; 95% CI 0.79–0.97) compared to non-users. However, with further adjustment for total cholesterol level, statin use was no longer associated with a lower cancer mortality (HR 1.08; 95% CI 0.97–1.20). Upon stratified analysis, statin use was associated with a decreased cancer mortality only if the total cholesterol level decreased after the initiation of statin use (HR 0.66; 95% CI 0.58–0.76). The inverse association between statin use and cancer mortality is limited to men with a reduction in total cholesterol level after the commencement of statins, i.e., statin use is associated with a lowered cancer mortality only if the total cholesterol level decreases. This suggests that the effect of statin use on cancer mortality relates to the decreased total cholesterol level.

See Statins increase cancer survival

Berberine and blood sugar

Berberine cuts blood sugar according to this 2019 study

Berberine as a cancer treatment

Berberine has been shown in research to work along a number of quite separate pathways against cancer; it reduces blood sugar levels, it reduces inflammation, boosts immune response and attacks the energy production system (the AMPK pathway) of cancer cells weakening the cancer cells, and helping chemotherapy; it also kills microbes in the gut and cuts blood fats and blood pressure.

Indeed, with some oncologists starting to use diabetes drug metformin in the fight against cancer because it cuts blood sugar and also affects the AMPK pathway, it is important to note that Berberine does eveything metformin does, and more! 

What is Berberine?

Berberine is an isoquinoline alkaloid component of many medicinal herbs, such as Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis), Chinese Isatis (Isatis tinctoria), Oregan grape root (Berberis aquifolium) and berberry bark.  

Berberine and specific cancers

There are over 500 quality research studies conducted on Berberine and cancer and research is gathering momentum. For example:

  1. Berberine and Colorectal Cancer – Berberine has a number of important actions. Its ability to reduce blood sugar levels. A strong anti-inflammatory action against Cox-2. And it has a number of strong digestive benefits and the ability to kill yeasts and pathogens. Combined these give it a strong influence in colorectal cancer where it can limit invasion and metastases(8).

A 2017 study showed that Berberine could inhibit the metastases and invasion of colorectal cancer cells both in vivo and in vitro in three ways – by restricting Cox-2, by reducing phosphorylation and by restricting MMP expression(10).

  1. Berberine and breast cancer – a 2016 study on breast cancer cells showed that berberine and curcumin worked in combination to cause apoptosis (cancer cell death) and autophagic cell death(9).

Berberine prevents cell growth and induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells (Kim JB et al 2010; Patil JB et al, 2010); In 2016, a study by Lanzhou University Medical School in China showed that because Berberine could turn the AMPK enzyme back on, Berberine could correct breast cancer cells.

  1. Berberine and Brain Cancer (GBM) – Berberine inhibits gene expression and enzyme activity necessary for glioblastoma and astrocytoma growth (Wang DY et al, 2002). This is not the first time it has shown effect with brain tumours. One study showed it might be a useful adjunct in PDT – in vitroexperiments showed using berberine alone, or in combination with laser treatments, on glioma cells were both effective (Chen KT et al, 1994). In 2004 it was shown to be a sensitizer of glioma cells where it increased the success of radiotherapy in brain tumours (Wallace J et al, 2004).

A 2008 study explained that berberine triggers apoptosis in glioblastoma cells through the mitochondrial caspases pathway (Eom KS et al 2008).

In 2009, research reported that berberine kills glioma cells through several mechanisms: “Cytotoxicity is attributable to apoptosis mainly through induced G2/M-arrested cells, in an ER-dependent manner, via a mitochondria-dependent caspase pathway regulated by Bax and Bcl-2” (Chen TC et al 2009).

A 2015 study showed that it aided the action of temozolomide against glioma (brain cancer).  Indeed part of the study suggested it was also effective in its own right even beating the effects of Temozolomide.

Berberine enhanced the activity of carmustine, a chemo drug often used on brain tumours. Berberine in culture or in rats given cancer tumours, on its own produced a 91% kill rate in cell cultures, compared to 43% for carmustine. When the two were combined the kill rate rose to 97% (Zhang, RX et al, 1990).

  1. Berberine and prostate cancer: Berberine has been shown to inhibit metastatic activity in prostate cancer cells. In particular Berberine seems to be one of the few compounds that inhibits the EMT program which causes metastases to bones (14). Neither hormone therapy nor chemotherapy nor radiotherapy has any action on bone metastases in prostate cancer but berberine does show effect. 
  2. Berberine and other cancers: 

In 2011, a review of the anti-cancer effects of berberine concluded that it was a promising, safe anti-tumour agent with a number of potential therapeutic uses (11).

 * Berberine sensitizes lung tumor cells to radiation (Peng PL et al 2008, Liu Y et al, 2008).

 * Berberine is cytotoxic to cervical cancer cells (Lu B et al, 2010);

 * Berberine inhibits cell growth in pancreatic cancer cells by inducing DNA damage (Pinto-Garcia L et al, 2010).

 Berberine triggers cellular suicide in tongue cancer (Ho YT et al 2009).

Yet more ways Berberine works against cancer?

Berberine seems to work in other ways too:

  * Berberine inhibits an enzyme called arylamine N-acetyltransferase (NAT) that is thought to initiate cancer (Hung CF et al, 2000).

  *  In 2007 there were conclusions that berberine acts “through several ways, such as regulating apoptotic gene expression, suppressing the formation of tumor angiogenesis [and blocking signal transduction pathway” (Yang J et al 2007).

  * In 2010 showed that Berberine could inhibit NF-KappaB and other compounds that help cancer cells survive by slowing apoptosis (Pazhang Y et al 2010).

Metformin and Berberine can work together against cancer

Berberine seems to have so many benefits against cancer, well beyond its sugar control. But Metformin also has sugar controlling benefits and acts on AMPK – it is the ’diabetes drug’. For this reason, many users take an either/or approach. That seems to be quite wrong. Actually Berberine and Metformin seem to enhance each other’s activity. For example, there is a study with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) showing exactly that (12). They work together in vitro and in vivo against a particularly nasty cancer.

Dosage of Berberine in cancer therapy

Berberine seems to be dose dependent and research indicates that low doses may be totally ineffective, and may even cause problems. The cancer inhibiting doses in research seem to start at 3 x 500 mg a day.

Berberine can cause a heavy heart beat and probably should not be taken long-term, although there is little evidence for this warning.

Berberine is, however, as powerful as pharmaceutical drugs. There are concerns about long-term usage causing metabolic changes. More work is however needed on this but warnings over long-term use persist.

Cancer Survival Tips

Page updated 2024

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