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Statins are commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol levels, but a new study reveals they also may slow the growth of an enlarged prostate in men who have elevated PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels. The study results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association held in Atlanta, Georgia.
This study is not the first to explore a relationship between statin use and prostate health. In fact, a number of studies have looked at whether statins increase the risk of prostate cancer, and so far the findings have been conflicting. There are also questions about whether taking statins cause erectile dysfunction or make it better.
Now researchers at Duke University Medical Center have noted that men with elevated PSA levels who took statins showed a reduction in prostate growth rate. This effect was relatively small, however, and also wore off after about two years.
The study involved data from more than 6,000 men who were part of a trial testing dutasteride (Avodart), a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor used to treat enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH). In this group, 1,032 men also took statins. At two years, prostate growth was 5% less for men who took both a statin and dutasteride than in untreated men. For men who took a statin and placebo, prostate growth was 3.9% less.
For now, “We don’t yet understand the mechanisms that might be causing this,” noted lead author Roberto Muller, MD, a urology fellow at Duke, who also pointed out the need for further study of the effect of statins on prostate growth and the answer to the question, can statins prevent BPH? Men are encouraged to consider all their options, including prostate supplements and lifestyle choices, when looking for ways to prevent and treat high cholesterol and support prostate health.