Statins Lower Cancer Mortality; Risk Cut by Up to a Half

 Liam Davenport
June 10, 2015

Medscape Medical News from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2015 Annual Meeting

CHICAGO — Statin use is associated with a significant reduction in cancer mortality, conclude two separate studies, one in women, the other in men. Both were presented here at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2015 Annual Meeting.

Specifically, statin use was associated with a 22% reduction in deaths from various cancer types in women and a 55% reduction in deaths from bone/connective tissue cancers. The study in men looked at statin use together with the antidiabetes medication metformin and found a 40% reduction in prostate cancer mortality, with the effect more pronounced in men with obesity/metabolic syndrome

As for how such an effect is achieved, the researchers speculate that statins interfere with cell growth and metastasis by blocking cholesterol production, thereby affecting molecular pathways and the inflammatory response

Statin Use Analysis of WHI Study Data

However, the researchers found that, compared with never having used statins, current statin use was associated with a significant reduction in cancer mortality, with an adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) of 0.78 vs never use (P < .0001). The association was unaffected by statin potency, lipophilicity/hydrophilicity, type, or duration.

Statin use was associated with significant reductions in deaths from breast (aHR = 0.60), ovarian (aHR = 0.58), colorectal (aHR = 0.57), digestive (aHR = 0.68), and bone/connective tissue cancers (aHR = 0.45), but not from lung cancer (aHR = 1.17).

Dr Wang noted that “Our study found that lipid-lowering medications, including statins, are associated with lower all-cancer mortality, and that might be related to the lower cholesterol levels induced by these medications,” Dr Wang concluded.

“Given the widespread use and growing use of statins under the new guidelines and the high burden of cancer, our findings are promising in suggesting a potential intervention that may benefit cancer patients,” she added.

But she added “We don’t know for sure if the link shown between a decreased risk of dying from cancer and statin use is due to the drugs themselves or some other reason,” he added.

Reduction in Prostate Cancer Death

The other study, showing a reduction in prostate cancer mortality, was presented by Grace L. Lu-Yao, PhD, from the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. Her team looked at use of both statins and metformin, a diabetes medication, because of hints seen in previous studies.

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