Another Good Reason to Take Statin…Maybe

Friday, October 29, 2010 // Uncategorized

5/27/2009 10:17:36 PM

Another Wallstreet Journal Article.

Caution:  This type of study does not give stong evidence of cause and effect.

APRIL 27, 2009 Statins Shown to Cut Prostate-Cancer Risk

CHICAGO — Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins that are a major weapon against cardiovascular disease may also protect men against prostate cancer and other urological problems, new research suggests.

In a study involving 2,447 men who were followed for 14 years, those taking statins were two to three times less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer compared with those who weren’t taking the medicines. The longer they were taking the medicines, the lower their risk of the cancer. The men were similarly less likely to have a biopsy to test for prostate tumors or to have elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, a marker for increased risk of the disease.

The findings were presented Sunday at the meeting of the American Urological Association here. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., who conducted the study, said the results were intriguing, but they cautioned that they are from an observational study and not robust enough to recommend statin therapy to aid in prevention of prostate cancer. That would take a large and prolonged randomized trial.

Statins, including Lipitor, above, are taken to lower cholesterol. In a study,men whotook statinswere also less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“It was a fairly substantial lower risk,” said Jennifer St. Sauver, an epidemiologist at Mayo and one of the investigators on the study. “If men are already taking statins for something else, maybe they are getting another benefit as well.”

About 186,000 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. last year, according to the American Cancer Society; it accounted for nearly 29,000 deaths, making it the second leading cause of cancer death in American men after lung cancer. More than 250,000 men world-wide die of prostate cancer each year.

Statins, which include Pfizer Inc.’s Lipitor, AstraZeneca PLC’s Crestor and several generics, are among the pharmaceutical industry’s top-selling medicines. They have been shown in numerous major studies to reduce risk of death, heart attacks, strokes and other consequences of cardiovascular disease. Possible side effects include muscle pain that leaves some patients unable to take the drugs.

In three presentations Sunday, Mayo researchers reported that 38, or 5%, of 729 men who were taking statins during the study were diagnosed with prostate cancer, compared with 186, or 11%, of 1,718 men not using statins; 11% of statin takers and 25% of those not taking statins had a biopsy to test for the presence of tumors.

The researchers also found that men taking statins were less likely to have benign enlargement of the prostate, a noncancerous condition that can make urination painful or difficult, or to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Whether lower cholesterol levels are associated with the reduced risk hasn’t been determined yet, researchers said.

In addition to their cholesterol-lowering effects, statins have been shown to reduce inflammation — a possible reason for their effect on prostate-cancer risk.

Write to Ron Winslow at [email protected]

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