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Some Cholesterol Drugs May Slow Prostate Growth

Statins Linked to Some Reduction in Prostate Growth Over 2-Year Period
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

May 21, 2012 -- Cholesterol-lowering statins may also slow the growth of the prostate, according to researchers at Duke University.

Their findings could eventually lead to new treatments for the millions of middle-aged and older men who experience urinary and other problems as a result of benign, age-related prostate growth.

But researcher Roberto Muller, MD, a urology fellow at Duke, is quick to point out that it's much too soon to tell what role, if any, statins will ultimately play in prostate health.

"It's very hard to predict the clinical applications, especially in terms of considering using statins for prostate enlargement," says Muller, who presented his team's findings today at a meeting of the American Urological Association. "We cannot suggest or recommend statins for treating prostate growth."

Muller and his team used data from a large study of the drug Avodart (dutasteride), which is prescribed to treat benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate. The study, funded by the drug's maker GlaxoSmithKline, enrolled more than 6,000 men between the ages of 50 and 75. Of those, 1,032 were taking statins.

The study participants underwent prostate biopsies at the start of the study and again at the two- and four-year marks. Comparing the prostate volume of the men, Muller identified a modest but significant reduction in prostate growth among men taking statins.

Specifically, men taking a statin and a placebo showed a 3.9% decrease in growth, while those taking a statin and Avodart showed a 5% decrease. The reductions, however, only occurred during the first two years.

Results Demonstrate Need for Further Research

Muller cautions that his results are from a secondary analysis. In other words, the study that he drew upon was not designed to answer questions about the potential role of statins in reducing prostate enlargement. New studies that specifically address that issue need to be conducted.

"The data are thought-provoking but exploratory only," says Mark Garzotto, MD, a prostate specialist at Oregon Health and Science University's Knight Cancer Institute.

Garzotto, who has studied statin use in prostate cancer patients, says that some parallel mechanisms are at work in both a benign enlarged prostate and prostate cancer.

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