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Statins, which are the most popular prescription drugs for lowering cholesterol, may also reduce a man’s risk of dying from prostate cancer. The results of the new study were published online in Cancer.
The investigative team, which was led by Stephen W. Marcella, MD, MPH, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, conducted a case-control study that involved 380 men aged 55 to 79 years who had died from prostate cancer between 1997 and 2000. The control group included 380 healthy men matched for age and race.
After the researchers accounted for body mass index, education level, waist size, other health problems affecting the participants, and use of blood pressure medications, they found that men who used statins had a 63% reduced risk of dying from prostate cancer when compared with controls.
When the investigators examined the impact of the two different types of statins—lipophilic and hydrophilic–they did not see any difference in the effect of these drugs on the risk of dying of prostate cancer. Lipophilic statins are those that have an affinity for and can dissolve lipids, and include atorvastatin, simvastatin, and pitavastatin. Hydrophilic statins have an affinity for water and include fluvastatin, rosuvastatin, and pravastatin.
However, the researchers did find that high-potency statins (atorvastatin, rosuvastatin) provided more protection against dying from prostate cancer than did low-potency statins (fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin). Compared with controls, use of high-potency statins was associated with a 73% reduced risk of death from prostate cancer.
Overall, the investigators concluded that “in view of the good safety record of this class of drugs and the shared risk factors for cardiovascular disease and aggressive prostate cancer, we believe that it is now time to directly test the value of statins for inhibiting progression or prostate cancer in a randomized clinical trial.”
Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.
Marcella SW et al. Statin use and fatal prostate cancer: a matched case-control study. Cancer 2011 Dec 16; doi:10.1002/cncr.26720