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Statins May Protect Prostate Cancer Patients

Fewer Cancer Recurrences Seen Following Surgery in Patients Taking Chloesterol-Lowering Drugs

Statins and Prostate Cancer continued...

Statin users were followed for a median of two years, while the median follow-up for the nonusers was 38 months.

Recurrences were evaluated by measuring rising PSA levels following surgery. Specifically, the researchers measured time to "biochemical recurrence," which is considered a significant predictor of disease progression.

About 300 men were found to have biochemical recurrences during the follow-up, including 16% of the statin users and 25% of the nonusers.

After attempting to control for other factors that could influence cancer recurrence, the researchers found that taking statins before surgery was associated with a 30% reduction in biochemical recurrences.

Among men who took more than 20 milligrams of Zocor every day, the recurrence risk was reduced by 50%. Men who took less than 20 milligrams of the drug a day saw no reduction in risk.

Freedland says this decrease was similar to that seen with radiation following prostate removal.

Statin users tended to be white, older, and heavier than nonusers, and they had less advanced disease at treatment, but they also had more aggressive tumors as measured by their Gleason scores.

The study was funded by public and private health groups, including the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the American Urological Association.

It appears online today and in the July 15 issue of the journal Cancer.

More Research Needed

Freedland says the findings warrant further research to better understand if statins play a role in prostate cancer progression.

“Obviously this is just one study, and it is observational,” he says. “But if these findings are confirmed, this is pretty profound.”

American Cancer Society Director of Prostate and Colorectal Cancers Durado Brooks, MD, agrees that the matter deserves more study.

But he says it is far too soon to recommend statins to prevent prostate cancer recurrence.

“Even if these findings are confirmed, we don’t know if starting statins after prostate cancer is diagnosed does any good at all, because these men were taking statins before diagnosis,” he says.

He adds that since statin use has been shown to lower PSA levels, the interpretation of the findings is not so clear.

“Without actually doing biopsies on these men, we can’t say for sure that their cancers had not recurred,” he says. “And right now we can’t say if these drugs actually lower the risk of dying from prostate cancer. It will take many years to figure this out.”

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