MONDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- A new study suggests that
men who take the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins are a
third less likely to suffer from recurrences of prostate
But don't demand that your doctor prescribe a statin -- drugs
such as Crestor, Lipitor and Zocor -- for you just yet.
The findings aren't firm enough for doctors to make a blanket
recommendation about statin therapy for men who have had prostate
cancer, said study senior author Dr. Stephen Freedland, an
associate professor of urology and pathology at Duke
Another physician went further, saying the findings simply
Some prior research has suggested that men who took the
cholesterol-lowering drugs were less likely than other men to
develop advanced prostate cancer and have it come back. But other
studies haven't found such positive effects, so the jury is still
out, said Dr. Nelson Neal Stone, a professor of urology and
radiation oncology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
The goal of the new study was to see if statins might be helping
those who had already had the disease.
The researchers examined the medical records of more than 1,300
men who'd had their prostates removed after being diagnosed with
prostate cancer. Of those, 18 percent were taking a statin when
they had the procedures.
The study results appear in the June 28 online issue of the
After adjusting their statistics so they wouldn't be thrown off
by factors such as high or low numbers or who were, say, obese or
older, researchers found that those on statins were 30 percent less
likely to suffer a recurrence of prostate cancer. More
specifically, tumors recurred in 25 percent of those who didn't use
statins and 16 percent of those who did.
The study doesn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship: The
statins did not necessarily directly lower the risk of prostate
cancer recurrence, the experts note. To confirm whether a drug
actually reduces risk, researchers rely on studies -- unlike this
one -- that randomly assign patients to certain treatments.
Stone added that the study has statistical problems that make
its results questionable.
Still, men did better if they took higher doses of statins,
Freedland said, suggesting that the drugs may have an effect. They
may work by reducing inflammation that spurs tumor growth, he
Statins are among the most widely prescribed drugs in America,
but they do come with risks. Patients may develop liver problems
and muscle damage, although the likelihood of that is low, Freeland
And the drugs aren't as inexpensive as, say, aspirin. Statins
can cost $5 a day or more, depending on dose, although some are
However, not every prostate cancer patient may need to take
them, Freedland said. Tests at the time of surgery can estimate a
man's risk of prostate cancer recurrence, and statins would be most
appropriate for those at highest risk, he explained.
For now, Freedland doesn't recommend that prostate cancer
patients start taking statins to prevent recurrence. However, "if
you're already on a statin, I'd keep you on that statin," he said.
"If you have a clear-cut indication, the benefits outweigh the
For more about
prostate cancer, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.