Background and aims: In haematological and solid tumours the blood lipoprotein profile has been reported to be altered; while decreased levels of total cholesterol and increased values of triglycerides have been observed. The mechanism and meaning of these changes are, however, not fully understood. The aim of the present study was to determine relationships between cancer progression and serum lipoproteins.
Methods and results: We performed a case-control study. We included cancer patients admitted to the 1st Division of Medical Oncology, Businco Hospital of Cagliari, Italy, between 1984 and 1998; 519 patients with any type of solid tumours and 928 healthy controls. We considered total cholesterol (C), high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-C, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-C, triglycerides and apolipoprotein A-1; other parameters examined were glycaemia, insulinaemia, body mass index (BMI), homeostasis model assessment-estimated insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), C reactive protein (CRP) and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). In the cancer group HDL-C and apolipoprotein A-1 were lower (p<0.05) and triglycerides were higher (p<0.05) than in controls; HDL-C (mg/dl) females: 48 vs. 64; males, 40 vs. 52; Apo-A-1 (mg/dl) females: 125 vs. 173; males, 120 vs. 152; triglycerides (mg/dl) females: 133 vs. 96; males, 152 vs. 117. Glucose (mg/dl) was lower in the cancer group (p<0.05); females, 72.3 vs. 80.0; males, 75.7 vs. 78.4.
Conclusion: Using multivariate analysis we were able to rule out cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases as causes of low HDL-C, and also demonstrate that these alterations can be shown as a specific consequence of the presence of a malignant tumour with a diagnostic and prognostic significance.