Although hypercholesterolemia is established as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, the finding in some epidemiological studies of no association between serum cholesterol and all causes mortality suggests that serum cholesterol may be inversely related to the risk of death from non-cardiovascular causes, e.g. cancer. This possibility led to the examination of this question in middle-aged white males from the Chicago Peoples Gas Company and Chicago Western Electric Company studies, and in middle-aged white males and females from the Chicago Heart Association Detection Project in Industry. In each of these studies, there was no significant association between initial serum cholesterol level and subsequent mortality from cancer, or from causes other than cancer and the cardiovascular diseases in men. There was, however, a significant inverse association with other causes of death in women. When the cancer deaths were examined by site, there was a significant inverse association between serum cholesterol and deaths from sarcoma, leukemia and Hodgkin's disease in the Western Electric men and one that was nearly so in the Chicago Heart Association men. Serum cholesterol was not significantly related to lung cancer, colorectal cancer, oral cancer, pancreatic cancer, or to all other cancers combined in any of the three studies in men or in women. There was, however, the suggestion of a positive association for breast cancer in women. Thus, the results of these three studies do not generally support the hypothesis of an inverse association between serum cholesterol and cancer in urban middle-aged white American males and females.
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