Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs have been found to offer a potential secondary benefit to men with prostate cancer: They appear to significantly reduce the risk of death, compared to men who don’t take such medication, according to study by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The research, published online in the journal The Prostate, tracked about 1,000 Seattle-area cancer patients for 8 years and found that just 1 percent of statin users died, compared to 5 percent of nonusers.
"If the results of our study are validated in other patient cohorts with extended follow-up for cause-specific death, an intervention trial of statin drugs in prostate cancer patients may be justified," said lead researcher Janet L. Stanford, co-director of the Prostate Cancer Research Program and a member of the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division.
About 30 percent of the study participants reported using statin drugs to control their cholesterol, the researchers said.
"While statin drugs are relatively well tolerated with a low frequency of serious side effects, they cannot be recommended for the prevention of prostate cancer-related death until a preventive effect on mortality from prostate cancer has been demonstrated in a large, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial," said co-researcher Milan S. Geybels, formerly a researcher in Stanford's group who is now based at Maastricht University in The Netherlands.
The researchers suggested cholesterol in tumor cells may play a key role the survival of prostate cancer cells. Statin drugs block an essential precursor to cholesterol production called mevalonate and that may reduce the risk of fatal prostate cancer.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Cancer Institute.
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