© 2005-2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.
June 6, 2004
A new study from the University of Michigan and CHS National Cancer Control Center in Israel suggests that statins may be protective against colorectal cancer. Statins are a group of widely-prescribed drugs that lower cholesterol. Previous studies have associated statin use with a reduction of colorectal cancer risk. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States, second only to lung cancer.
In this case-control study, researchers compared the use of statins in 1,608 Israeli patients who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 1,734 Israelis who did not develop colorectal cancer. The researchers confirmed the use of statins from prescription records.
They found that people who took statins were 51% less likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who did not report taking statins. This protective effect was still significant even after researchers adjusted for other known risk factors of colorectal cancer.
"While the study's results provide a compelling rationale for more research, it is too early to recommend that patients take statins to reduce their risk of colorectal cancer," said Stephen Gruber, MD, PhD, senior investigator of the study, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Other types of cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as fibrates, did not appear to protect against colon cancer. "We found that the protective effect of lipid lowering agents was restricted to statins," said Dr. Gruber.
What This Means for Patients
At this time, statins are not approved for reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. People should not take statins to reduce their risk of colorectal cancer. The results of this study will likely lead to randomized, controlled clinical trials that test whether statins can be used to prevent or treat cancer.