Men who take statins for at least 11 months might be at lower risk for low- and high-Gleason grade prostate cancer than men who do not take the cholesterol-lowering drugs, according to a recent study (Cancer Medicine Oct. 8, 2019 [Epub ahead of print]).
The risk reduction associated with statin use was higher for higher-risk prostate cancer, according to study author Kai Wang, MD, PhD, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston.
“Because this was an observational study, whether statins can be used for prostate cancer prevention or treatment in clinic remains uncertain before more clinical trial studies have been conducted,” said Dr. Wang, working with Mattia Prosperi, MEng, PhD, and co-authors.
Evidence suggests statins might act chemo-preventatively against prostate cancer because the drugs lower serum and tissue cholesterol. That disrupts cellular lipid rafts, leading to reduced raft-dependent signaling and cell proliferation, the authors wrote.
Yet studies looking at how using statins might impact prostate cancer risk have had mixed results. This study is among the largest longitudinal studies to analyze the relationship between statin use and Gleason score-specific prostate cancer, according to the paper.
The authors studied electronic medical records data from 1994 to 2016 at a U.S. tertiary hospital cohort of 13,065 men who were cancer-free and older than 18 years of age at baseline. The men had been to one or more urologic clinic visits for prostate conditions.
Nearly 3,000 of the men were diagnosed with prostate cancer during a median of 6.6-year follow up.
Statin use was associated with a 20% decreased overall prostate cancer risk compared with no statin use.
Only lipophilic statins were linked to decreased prostate cancer risk overall. And the authors only observed a benefit when men had taken statins for 11 months or longer or cumulatively took ≥121 daily doses (121 is the World Health Organization-defined daily dose). Statin use of 1 to 10 months was associated with an 88% increased cancer risk compared with those who were not on statins.