Phytosterols may do much more than just help control cholesterol

So…how’s National Cholesterol Education Month been going for you?

As I mentioned in an earlier e-Alert, September is National Cholesterol Education Month, and it provides government health agencies with a perfect opportunity to encourage all of us to consider taking statin drugs.

Don’t you love it when tax dollars help boost drug company revenues?

Of course, you won’t hear this from the FDA or the CDC or the NHBLI or HHS or any of those other acronym agencies, but natural plant sterols called phytosterols help manage lipid levels by blocking absorption of dietary cholesterol.

But that’s not all. According to a new study from the University of Manitoba, phytosterols may actually play a more important role as a cancer fighter.

After reviewing recent research on the effects of phytosterols on different forms of cancer, the Manitoba team concluded: “This combined evidence strongly supports an anticarcinogenic action of phytosterols and hence advocates their dietary inclusion as an important strategy in prevention and treatment of cancer.”

Specifically, phytosterols may reduce risk of breast, ovary, stomach, and lung cancers.

The researchers added that a daily phytosterol intake of two grams “does not cause any major health risks.”

Dietary sources of phytosterols include nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. And according to a study I told you about in a 2006 e-Alert, sesame seeds, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, and pistachios were found to have the highest phytosterol content.

You can also find phytosterols in supplement form, but talk to your doctor before adding a new supplement to your daily regimen.

“Phytosterols May Prevent Cancer Development: Review” Stephen Daniells, NutraIngredients-USA, 7/27/09,