Statins Might Have A Good Effect in Reducing Prostate Cancer Aggressiveness

Categories: Winter 2009
(This material is adapted for QUEST by Cecilia Lacks, PhD from study results that have been accepted for journal publication. Authors: Stacy Loeb, MD; Donghui Kan; Brian T. Helfand, MD; Robert B. Nadler, MD; and William J. Catalona, MD)

Some studies have suggested that statins, in addition to their benefits for prevention of heart disease, might reduce the risk of the aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

Statins are a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol levels by preventing the liver, which is responsible for 75 percent of cholesterol production, from creating cholesterol.

Possible Connection

The possibility that statins affect prostate cancer makes biological sense because statins are known to inhibit cell growth and to be involved in the process of programmed cell death.

Also, because cholesterol has a role in numerous cell pathways, considerable research is taking place into the association between statins and the risk of malignancy.

This study analyzed data on preoperation statin use by 1351 radical prostatectomy (RP) patients (Dr. Catalona).

The clinical and pathological tumor features were compared between 504 users of statins and 847 who were not users.

The pre-operation PSA levels were significantly lower among men taking statins, even though biopsy Gleason score and clinical stage were similar between the two groups.

Pathology reports, after the RP, showed that tumor volume and percentage of cancer in the radical prostatectomy specimen were significantly lower in patients taking statins – despite a similar overall prostate size.

Although most patients in the study had organ-confined cancer, statin users had a proportionately lower rate of adverse tumor pathology features, including a significantly lower risk of positive (cancerous) surgical margins. (Margins are the edges of the removed tumor.)

More Investigation Needed

Results suggest that the use of statins might be associated with more favorable pathological features in patients who are treated by radical prostatectomy, but the underlying links between statins and prostate cancer require much further investigation.

The journal articles finishes with the following:

Overall, it would be premature to base clinical recommendations on these observational results…. Carefully designed trials are necessary to assess whether statins will be useful in prostate cancer prevention.

(Dr. Catalona)

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