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Statins - fewer prostate cancer deaths


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Another one of those studies where they looked at two groups of men that were very similar.

One difference in this study - the men were all dead before the study started.

One of the groups of men had the world's most commonly prescribed type of drug - a statin.

The other group had no statin.

Bottom line: There were significantly fewer deaths from prostate cancer in the men that took statins.

Many of you will be taking a statin prescribed by your doctor to lower your cholesterol or help prevent heart problems.

This is not the sort of evidence that would lead your doctor to give you a statin to slow your cancer, but if your doctor has already prescribed a statin, this result should give you a warmish feeling that the statin may also be fighting your cancer.

I personally have a warm feeling about the statins.

From this study alone we do not know if the deaths were saved by:

  • a delay in the presentation of the cancer;
  • a delay in the progression of the cancer; or
  • both.

So I like to think:

  • I was maybe given an extra few weeks, months or years of peaceful existence before diagnosis, or
  • I might be having my progression restrained at the moment for an extra few weeks, months or years; or
  • both.

Less comforting is my knowledge that:

  • all drug studies report medians, and
  • these medians are made up of equal numbers of men who did well and men who did not do so well; and
  • realistically there is about a one in three chance that I was in the non-responders, and my warm feeling may be misguided.

One particular statin, Lipitor (Atorvastatin), became the most prescribed drug in history in 2003.

Statins include: Lipitor (atorvastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Altoprev (lovastatin extended-release), Livalo (pitavastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin), and Zocor (simvastatin). Combination products include: Advicor (lovastatin/niacin extended-release), Simcor (simvastatin/niacin extended-release), and Vytorin (simvastatin/ezetimibe)

Cancer. 2011 Dec 16. doi: 10.1002/cncr.26720. [Epub ahead of print]

Statin use and fatal prostate cancer: A matched case-control study.

Marcella SW, David A, Ohman-Strickland PA, Carson J, Rhoads GG.


Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey; Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey; Cancer Institute of New Jersey, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey. marcelsw@umdnj.edu.



Statins are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in medical practice, and prostate cancer is the most common malignancy among men. Although there has been no consistent evidence that statins affect cancer incidence, including prostate cancer, several reports suggest they may decrease the rate of advanced prostate cancer. However, no study to date has specifically examined statin use and prostate cancer mortality. The authors conducted this population-based case-control investigation to examine this association.


This was a matched case-control study. Cases were residents of New Jersey ages 55 to 79 years who died from prostate cancer between 1997 and 2000. The cases were matched individually to population-based controls by 5-year age group and race. Medication data were obtained identically for cases and controls from blinded medical chart review. Conditional logistic regression was used to adjust for confounders.


In total, 718 cases were identified, and cooperation was obtained from 77% of their spouses (N = 553). After a review of medical records, 387 men were eligible, and 380 were matched to a control. The unadjusted odds ratio was 0.49 (95% confidence interval, 0.34-0.70) and decreased to 0.37 (P < .0001) after adjusting for education, waist size, body mass index, comorbidities, and antihypertensive medication. There was little difference between lipophilic and hydrophilic statins, but more risk reduction was noted for high-potency statins (73%; P < .0001) compared with low-potency statins (31%; P = .32).


Statin use was associated with substantial protection against prostate cancer death, adding to the epidemiologic evidence for an inhibitory effect on prostate cancer. Cancer 2012;. © 2011 American Cancer Society.

Copyright © 2011 American Cancer Society.

PMID: 22180145 This extract can be found on http://PubMed.com, and is in the public domain.

On PubMed.com there will be a link to the full paper (often $30, sometimes free).

Any highlighting (except the title) is not by the author, but by Jim Marshall.

Jim is not a doctor.

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