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Risks of Cancer Using Statins

21 Feb 2017Health Essays

Introduction

HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors or popularly known as “Statin” falls under hypolipidemic drugs, which is commonly used to decrease cholesterol levels in people at risk or with cardiovascular disease.
(Branett, pp. 40-41) Several studies were conducted by cancer experts that presented evidences of statin drugs preventing different types of cancer.

Statins Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

Latest research presented that the popular drug statin is really good for more than the heart as it decreases the risk of advanced prostate cancer by 50% based on more than 30,000 men during a 10-year study.Elizabeth Platz, ScD, MPH, a Cancer Epidemiologist of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore found the effects of statin promising. “The longer men took statins, the lower the risk of advanced prostate cancer,” she said.A new study was presented during the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. The study showed that 34, 000 men were free of prostate cancer in 1990.Every two years, Platz studied these men if they use statins and whether they are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Platz and her team confirmed the diagnosis if these men declared they had cancer.Approximately 2,000 men had prostate cancer, wherein 283 cases were advanced prostate cancer, while most of them are having spread outside the prostate.Looking unto the statistics of those who had statins and those who had not, people who used statins lessen the chance of advance prostate cancer by 50%.(Laino, webmd)

Statin use and Breast Cancer in Older Women

Experts tested their hypothesis that older women reduce breast cancer if they use statins.The test was conducted at four community-based clinical centers in US, using 7528 participants of Caucasian women in their 70’s. In 244 cases, joined pathology reports and medical records showed main outcome measure was breast cancer that is identified over an average of 6.8 years.Over 576 women were reported using statins. The age-adjusted incidence of breast cancer was 3.1/1000 person-years among statin users, 1.4 among women using other lipid-lowering agents, and 5.0 among nonusers. After adjustment for age and body weight, the relative risk of breast cancer among statin users was 0.28 (95% confidence intervals, and among women who used other lipid-lowering drugs, it was 0.37 (95% CI 0.14-0.99) in comparison to nonusers.Tests showed that statin drug users reduced 68% of risk in breast cancer.They therefore conclude those older women who used statins may have decreased the risk of breast cancer. The widespread use of statins by older women will have a great public health impact.(Cauley, doi:10.1089)

Statins may cut risk of Colon Cancer

Another benefit of using statin drugs may ward off colon cancer according to the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) A study was led by Stephen Gruber, MD, PhD, of the University of Michigan using 1,608 participants of Israelis infected by colorectal cancer and 1,734 participants of Israelis free from disease. Gruber and his colleagues checked on the participant’s lifestyle factors that could influence colon cancer risk and their use of statins.From observation, the participants taking statin drugs for 5 years or more cut their risk of colon cancers than those who not.Out of all the participants, only 267 used statin drugs that long, while 95% of them used other cholesterol lowering-drugs. These drugs such as fibrates, pravachols, and zocors did not demonstrate any effect on the risk of colon cancer.(cancer.org)

Statins shown to prevent Lung Cancer

Researchers of Medical Center in Louisiana State University and the Overton Brooks VA conducted a study using data collection of a large population of 483, 733 patients (composed of cancer-free and with lung cancer) over 6 years in VA Health Care System.From the total population, 7, 280 participants had lung cancer while 163, 662 were having stamin drugs. The use of stamins was defined as time of usage prior to lung cancer diagnosis and/or time of usage until the data gathering was finished.In the results, it was found out that using statins for 6 months or more reduces the risk of lung cancer up to 55%. Taking in statin drugs for more than 6 months will decrease chances of lung cancer across all age groups, whether smoker or not.(sciencedaily.com, 2007)

Statins not effective cure for cancer

Two studies showed that Statins do not reduce or cure any kind of cancer.First is a study at Journal of the American Medical Association, wherein scientists picked 27 former articles tackling 87,000 patients and studied overall cancer risks. Next, is at the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, wherein researches took 132,00 people in American Cancer Society and studied them primarily focusing on colon cancer.“Patients should not take statins in hopes of preventing any cancer. The drugs cost 2 to 3 dollars a day and pose a risk of damaging liver and muscles,” said Michael White, Professor at the University of Connecticut states.(preventdisease.com)Not only that statin is not effective as cure for cancer, it might even provoke cancer because of the lowering in cholesterol.It is suspected that some cancer cases rooted from statins as a consequence of the low levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol produced by taking them.

Conclusion

Many studies were already conducted that demonstrated how statins can lower the risk of various cancers. Based from some laboratory and animal studies, statins provide protective effects.Although studies proved that statin drugs decrease the risks of certain cancers such as prostate, this is the first time that experts tracked medication use before the study participants developed cancer, Platz stressed.“We are not yet ready to prescribe statins for patients who do not have an abnormality,” said Dr. Vikas Khurana of Louisiana State University, an author of the statin study, stressing to people with high cholesterol.The studies tackled above are really promising, but lots of stringent experiments and studies should be done before doctors recommend statin drugs to their patients as cancer prevention. As statins continue to present good effects, it’s not impossible that it can develop side effects particularly in liver and muscles. Before they prescribe statins as a cancer prevention drug, they should first secure the risks of possible side effects.There could be a greater risk in the long run than the early benefits it gives to patients.

References:

  • Branett, Megan. Statins. U.S. News and World Report v. 135 no. 22 (Dec. 22, 2003) pp. 40-41
  • Jane A. Cauley, Statins on Breast Cancer. Journal of Women's Health. 2003, 12(8): 749-756. doi:10.1089/154099903322447710.
  • Laino, Charlene. Prostate Cancer and Statins. From website http://www.webmd.com retrieved January 4, 2008.
  • Cholesterol Drug cutting Colon Cancer.
  • Statins preventing Lung Cancer.
  • Statins don’t help with cancer. 

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