Statins don’t protect against cancer: study

Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs help prevent heart attacks and may offer other health benefits, but contrary to what some people think they do not prevent cancer, a new study indicates.

The results of the study, published in the journal Epidemiology, do not support an association between statin use and the occurrence of 10 different cancer types, including the four most common in the US - lung, breast, colon and prostate cancer.

In lab studies, statins have been shown to halt the growth, survival and migration of cancer cells. Therefore, Dr. Patricia F. Coogan, of Boston University, and colleagues, hypothesized that statins may have cancer-preventive properties in humans.

They collected pertinent information from adults between the ages of 40 and 79 years who were admitted to hospitals in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore from 1991 to 2005.

A total of 4,913 patients who had any of 10 types of cancer were compared with 3,900 patients who were admitted for non-cancer-related ailments. The types of cancers examined were breast, prostate, colorectal, lung, bladder, leukemia, pancreas, kidney, uterine cancer, along with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

According to Coogan and colleagues, statins did not appear to have a positive or negative effect on these 10 cancers.

Despite their findings, the researchers recommend that cancer incidence and statin use should continue to be monitored.

SOURCE: Epidemiology March 2007.

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