Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs have been linked to an increased risk of thyroid cancer, particularly among women, Taiwanese researchers report.
People who routinely used statins were 40 percent more likely to develop thyroid cancer, with women facing slightly higher risks, according to research led by Shiu-Dong Chung, M.D., of Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in New Taipei City, MedPage Today
"Several observational studies raised the possibility that the use of statins may decrease the overall risk of cancer and of specific cancers," including colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers, the researchers said, noting theirs is one of the first studies to examine the possible effects on thyroid cancer.
For the study, Dr. Hung's group identified 500 patients, ages 40 and older, in the Taiwan National Health Insurance program who were diagnosed with a malignant neoplasm of the thyroid gland between 2008 and 2011. In comparing the patients to 2,500 individuals, they found statins were far more likely to be routinely taken by those who developed cancer.
Hormonal differences between men and women may explain why the link is stronger in females.
"It is possible that in female subjects, the cancer-protective effects of statins are neutralized due to relatively higher estrogen levels than in males," the researchers suggested.
"We recommend that physicians be more alert in managing patients under regular statin use, as this popular therapy might potentially contribute to more problems than previously thought," they advised.
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