Very Low LDL May Mean More Cancer Risk
Risk Found in People Taking Statin Drugs; More Study Needed, Researchers Say
Statins, Cancer, and Controversy
It is not clear from the analysis if the increased cancer risk seen in
patients with very low LDL had anything to do with statin use.
The study is published in the July 31 issue of the Journal of the
American College of Cardiology (ACC).
In an interview with WebMD, ACC President James Dove, MD, FACC, expressed
concern that it would be misinterpreted by the press and public.
“It would be wrong to conclude that the drugs are too risky because of this
unproven cancer risk,” he says. “These results raise important questions, but
they do not demonstrate a causal relationship between statins and cancer.”
Editors of the ACC journal expressed a similar apprehension in an editorial
accompanying the research analysis.
“Given the growing public angst regarding the safety of prescription
medications, all were concerned that the paper contained great potential both
for harm and good,” editors Anthony DeMaria, MD, and Ori Ben-Yehuda, MD,
The study prompted “spirited discussions” among editorial board members,
with some arguing that the paper should not be published, the editors
“In the final analysis, the consensus was that these findings could not be
ignored, that they did indeed warrant further investigation, and that they
should be aired in public,” they conclude.
Lipitor manufacturer Pfizer issued a statement late Monday in response to
the study, noting that “the existing pre-clinical and clinical evidence does
not support a causal association between the use of statins and the development
A Pfizer spokeswoman pointed to a large analysis of 26 studies including
nearly 90,000 patients published last year, which showed no evidence of an
increased risk of cancer with statin use.
“A limitation of the current analysis is that researchers took data from
clinical trials available before November of 2005,” the statement reads. “We
agree with the authors that further analysis in this area is appropriate, but
should include all currently available trials.”
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