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22-06-2010 | Oncology | Article

Statins may prevent development of prostate cancer


Free abstract

MedWire News: Statins may protect against the development of prostate cancer, say US researchers.

The team found that men who used statins had a decreased risk for elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, less chance of undergoing prostate biopsy, an overall reduced risk for a prostate cancer diagnosis, and less risk for being diagnosed with high-grade disease if they were diagnosed.

The effect was particularly apparent in men who had used statins for a long period of time, report Jennifer St Sauver, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues in the Journal of Urology.

The researchers examined data for 2447 men from the Olmsted County Study of Urinary Symptoms and Health Status, among whom 634 were statin users and 1813 were not.

After a median follow-up of 15.7 and 15.2 years, respectively, 6% of statin users compared with 10% of non-statin users were diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Statin use was associated with a 61% and 35% decrease in the risk for having a PSA level above the age-dependent thresholds of 2.5 ng/ml and 4.0 ng/ml, respectively, and a 57% decrease in the risk for having a prostate biopsy on the basis of breaching a PSA threshold.

Adjustment for potential confounding factors, including the presence of diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease, increased the strength of these associations further still.

The researchers speculate that statins may have PSA level-suppressing abilities, thus giving false-negative readings and explaining the reduced prostate biopsy rate among statin-users.

“However, if statins only suppressed PSA and had no effect on prostate cancer, we would expect biopsies of statin users to be delayed, resulting in more advanced stage disease at diagnosis,” writes the research team.

Multivariate analysis also revealed that, overall, men who used statins were 64% less likely to receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer compared with men who were not taking statins. In addition, statin users were 75% less likely to be diagnosed with high-grade prostate cancer (Gleason score 7 or above) if they did receive such a diagnosis.

“More than half of the statin users used these medications for more than 5 years, and 33% used them for more than 9 years, with the strongest protective associations observed in men who had used statins for the longest period,” write St Sauver et al.

“Statins may have antineoplastic effects beyond their established cardiovascular functions,” they conclude.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Sarah Guy

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