Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Database Reviews Indicate Statins Cut Cancer Risk

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Database Reviews Indicate Statins Cut Cancer Risk

Article excerpt

ORLANDO -- Statin use was associated with a reduction of about 50% in the risk of breast, prostate, and lung cancers in three retrospective, case-control studies that mined a database containing medical records for 1.4 million veterans.

Investigators at the Overton Brooks Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Shreveport, La., found that prescriptions for the cholesterol-lowering drugs were associated with odds ratios of 0.46 for prostate cancer, 0.49 for breast cancer, and 0.52 for lung cancer.

In three presentations at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the researchers advocated randomized controlled trials to test the hypothesis that statins can protect against cancer.

"We're not yet ready to recommend statins for those patients who do not have abnormal lipids. They [statins] are not entirely safe," senior author Vikas Khurana, M.D., said at a press briefing. But based on the data so far, physicians might choose statins over other cholesterol-lowering drugs for patients with lipid abnormalities and a family history of cancer, he said.

A growing number of retrospective studies have reported similar results. Dr. Khurana, professor of medicine at Louisiana State University Health Science Center, said that his group also had found that statins might have preventive effects against cancers of the colon, pancreas, esophagus, and liver.

The researchers, who hope to secure funding for randomized trials in breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancer, are doing subgroup analyses to determine how to design those trials.

As an example of the issues to be resolved, Dr. Khurana suggested that a lipid-soluble statin might be more effective against breast cancer, whereas a water-soluble statin could have an advantage against colon cancer. "One of the things is which statin to use and which dose to use, and how long to wait before we see the effect," he said.

Lack of funds to obtain computing power has been the chief obstacle to analyzing the large data sets, Dr. Khurana said. The researchers are working with records entered from October 1996 to June 2004 in a database covering 10 Veterans Administration centers in four states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas). …

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