Statins do not reduce the chances of developing prostate cancer, but they dramatically cut the rate of lethal advanced disease, data show.
Epidemiologists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore identified all 2,579 men in the 35,000-member Health Professionals Follow-up Study who had developed prostate cancer over a 12-year period ending in 2002. Compared with those not using statins, those taking the drugs showed a 49% reduced risk of any form of advanced prostate cancer and a 61% reduced risk of metastatic or fatal disease, after adjusting for multiple variables. In addition, the longer men used statins, the lower their risk of advanced disease. Those who took the drugs less than five years had a 40% reduced risk and those who used them more than five years had a 74% lower risk.
“The reduced availability of cholesterol for incorporation into the cell membrane could influence membrane-associated signaling that promotes cancer cell survival,” the authors explained in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2006; 98: 1819-1825).