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Statins May Protect Prostate Cancer Patients

Fewer Cancer Recurrences Seen Following Surgery in Patients Taking Chloesterol-Lowering Drugs
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

June 28, 2010 -- Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs appear to reduce the risk for prostate cancer recurrence in patients who have had a surgical procedure called radical prostatectomy.

In a new study from Duke University Medical Center, men who took statins for their hearts were 30% less likely to have their cancers come back after their prostates were removed than men who did not take the drugs.

Those who took the highest doses saw their recurrence risk drop by half.

The research does not prove that taking cholesterol-lowering drugs directly slows the growth and progression of prostate cancer. But the fact that the fewest recurrences were seen in men who took the highest statin doses is compelling, says senior investigator Stephen J. Freedland, MD, of the Duke Prostate Center.

“Statin users may see their doctors more often and may be more health conscious in general, and it has been suggested that this could explain the observed reduction in risk,” Freedland tells WebMD. “If this is the case, dosage shouldn’t matter. But that is not what we found.”

Statins and Prostate Cancer

About one man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, and one in 35 will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

In the U.S. alone, roughly 190,000 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed last year.

Statins such as Zocor, Lipitor, and Crestor, among others, are some of the most widely prescribed pharmaceuticals. While some previous studies have linked their use to a lower risk for prostate cancer and prostate cancer recurrence, this has not been seen in other studies.

In earlier research, the Duke team found that men who took statins tended to have lower levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), the protein that is a marker for prostate cancer.

Their latest research was designed to examine whether the drugs slow the progression of disease.

The study included just over 1,300 surgically treated prostate cancer patients enrolled in a cancer registry, including 236 who were taking statins to lower their cholesterol and heart disease risk at the time of surgery.

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