Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Statin Drugs May Cut Colon Cancer Risk

More Study Needed To Determine If Effect Is Real
WebMD Health News

June 7, 2004 (New Orleans) -- Colon and rectal cancers are the No. 2 cancer killers in the United States; now new research suggests a type of drugs that lowers cholesterol may cut the risk of developing these cancers.

Statins, marketed under names such as Crestor, Lescol, Lipitor, Mevacor, Pravachol, and Zocor, are a type of drug commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol, but cancer researchers suspect they may also inhibit the growth of cancer.

To test that theory, S.B. Gruber, MD, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Michigan along with scientists at CHS National Cancer Control Center in Haifa, Israel, looked at the use of statin drugs in 1,849 people with colorectal cancer and in 1,959 people without the disease. The study results were presented at the 40th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

51% Colon Cancer Risk Reduction

Among the colon cancer patients, 6% had taken statins, while 11% of the healthy people had used the drugs, Gruber tells WebMD. That means that taking statin drugs was associated with a 51% reduction in risk of colon cancer.

However, many factors can alter the risk for colon cancer so Gruber and his colleagues factored in things like aspirin use, diet -- especially a diet high in fruits and vegetables, exercise, and family history.

When they added in those factors, "use of statins was still associated with a 46% reduction in risk."

Moreover, Gruber says the benefit is not just about lowering cholesterol because when he looked at other drugs used to lower cholesterol levels, "we found no benefit."

In Israel the most commonly used statins are Zocor and Pravachol and the benefit was the same with both drugs, which makes Gruber think that all statins are likely to offer the same benefit.

Statins for Prevention Not Yet Recommended

But he says it is too early to suggest taking statins as a means of preventing colorectal cancer.

Monica Morrow, MD, a professor of surgery at the Lynn Sage Comprehensive Breast Program at Northwestern University in Chicago tells WebMD she agrees with Gruber's caution about jumping to conclusions.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
New Colorectal Treatments
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
Cancer Facts Quiz
Virtual Colonoscopy
Picture of the Colon
Vitamin D