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“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”
STATIN DRUGS DECREASE PROSTATE CANCER RISK
As I discuss in my book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, the role of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs in cancer prevention continues to be debated because of contradictory research findings. (While some clinical research studies have suggested that long-term statin use may reduce cancer risk, other studies have not shown any apparent improvement in cancer risk associated with these commonly prescribed medications.) However, a newly published public health study from the Veterans Affairs New England Healthcare System, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, suggests that statin drugs may be associated with a significant decrease in the risk of prostate cancer.
In this very large study, the medical records of 55,875 veterans were evaluated. Among this large group of veterans, 41,078 were taking statin drugs, while the remaining 14,797 men were taking medication for high blood pressure (but not statin drugs.) When the incidence of prostate cancer was assessed in each of these two groups of men, the researchers performing this research study found that there was a 31 percent decrease in the incidence of prostate cancer among the group of male veterans that took statin drugs. Moreover, the incidence of high-risk (high grade) prostate cancer among the men taking statins was a whopping 60 percent lower than that observed among the veterans who were not taking statin drugs.
Although the precise mechanism(s) of action is not entirely clear, long-term statin use in this large group of older male veterans appeared to significantly reduce the overall risk of prostate cancer, as well as the risk of more aggressive types of prostate cancer. (Like other research studies, this study also found a trend towards increased prostate cancer risk in men with elevated levels of cholesterol in their blood, and so decreased cholesterol levels, due to statin drugs, may explain, at least in part, the decrease in prostate cancer risk observed in the veterans who took statins in this research study. However, statin drugs also reduce inflammation in the body, and chronic inflammation of the prostate gland is also thought to be a risk factor for this common form of cancer.)
As with all clinical research studies that are based upon the review of patient medical records, the results of this research study need to be confirmed with a prospective, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled clinical research trial. Until this “gold standard” method of clinical research is performed, however, this large retrospective study of U.S. veterans offers some of the strongest research evidence linking long-term statin drug use with a decreased risk of prostate cancer.
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On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com “Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!
Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity
Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author
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