There may be an association between high cholesterol and prostate cancer, according to Italian researchers. About 3,000 men participated in a 9-year study, published in the April 12 online edition of Annals of Oncology. Participants who had prostate cancer, particularly older men, were twice as likely to have high cholesterol as those without prostate cancer.

Study authors noted that age, ethnicity and family history help determine who will get prostate cancer, but they said that other causes are poorly understood. These researchers looked at almost 1,300 men under the age of 75 who had prostate cancer and compared them with 1,451 men who did not have the illness. Participants answered a questionnaire that covered medical history. Researchers confirmed the presence of prostate cancer with lab tests but relied on participants to self-report the existence of high cholesterol.

Men with prostate cancer were 50% more likely to have high cholesterol. The association was stronger in men over 65 (who were 80% more likely to have high cholesterol) than in younger men (who were only 32% more likely to have high cholesterol).