Study leader Dr Michelle Hill said the research highlighted why it is important for patients with prostate cancer to choose a low-cholesterol diet.
“High cholesterol doesn’t change the size of the original prostate cancer tumour, but the effect on cancer spreading was shown to be significant,” Hill said.
The team investigated if the findings could also lead to a treatment to stop the spread of prostate cancer.
“We found two key proteins which enable the high cholesterol to prompt cancer spreading,” Hill said.
“Cholesterol acts like a magnet, pulling these two proteins to the surface of the cancer cell.
"This disrupts the function of the cell, makes it more aggressive and spreads it elsewhere in the body.”
If the researchers could now find a way to block the magnetic effect cholesterol has on these two proteins, the result could lead to future treatments preventing the spread of prostate cancer.
“In the meantime, clinicians should work with patients to reduce cholesterol through dietary modification and existing cholesterol medication,” said Hill.