Last December I posted a blog entry on the possibility that statins, a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs, can reduce the risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer (PCa). If you’re interested, I summarized the relationship between how statins control cholesterol and scientific theories about the connection with PCa; you can read it at https://sperlingprostatecenter.com/statins-prostate-cancer/.
I try to keep informed on updated information on this topic. I was happy to come across a new large scale study/analysis from a collaborative Harvard-Vanderbilt University team with modestly encouraging results. I especially like this study because it includes a large percentage of black men, unlike many other studies that primarily include whites.
The authors enrolled 32,091 men (ages 40-79 at the time of enrollment). Sixty-seven percent of them were black. Within 8 years of the study’s beginning, 570 men were diagnosed with PCa, divided into 324 low-grade PCa (Gleason < 3+4) and high-grade PCa (Gleason > 4+3). Those who reported taking statins at the time of enrollment were:
• 10% black patients
• 22% white patients.
Compared with patients who did not use statins, those who took the drugs had an overall 14% lower risk of PCa, which was not statistically significant. According to the authors, this association was stronger for those with high-grade PCa, and was the same risk reduction whether the men were white or black. The team concluded that there was “no strong association between statin use [and prostate cancer] overall,” but if the tendency toward a small degree of risk protection exists, it would be the same regardless of race/ethnicity, and “may be restricted to high-grade tumors…”
More research will need to be done to explore whether statins play a beneficial role regarding prostate cancer. Meanwhile, there is no doubt that statins increase longevity for those whose high levels of cholesterol put them at risk for cardiovascular disease.
i Kantor ED, Lipworth L, Fowke JH et al. Statin use and risk of prostate cancer: Results from the Southern Community Cohort Study. Prostate. 2015 May 27. doi: 10.1002/pros.23019. [Epub ahead of print]