Cholesterol lowering agents known commonly as statins are used widely to reduce the incidence of atherosclerotic vascular heart disease. The statins reduce the “bad cholesterol”, known as LDL-C and increase lightly the blood levels of the “good cholesterol’ HDL-C. The first product Mevacor (lovastatin) was introduced in 1987. Since then several much more effective statins were released for clinical use. Known among them are simvastatin (Zocor), atorvastatin (Lipitor) and Rosuvastatin (Crestor).
In 2005 a scientific report appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that use of a statin reduces colon cancer risk by 47 percent.
About a year ago a study published in the Journal Cancer showed that men taking statins may be 30 percent less likely to experience a recurrence of prostatic cancer.
Recently a new study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Nov 7, 2012). This study was conducted among Danish cancer patients shows that patients taking statins have a lower risk of premature death from cancer. Their risk of death from cancer was reduced by 15 percent. This risk reduction is seemingly very modest, but traditional chemotherapy reduces the risk of dying only by a similar 15 percent.
It is thought that the statins work against critical cellular functions that control tumor initiation, tumor growth and metastatic cancer spread.
It is estimated that 15 million Americans are taking statins for control of increased cholesterol levels in order to prevent heart disease and strokes. During the recent years there has been a continuous trend in reduction of cancer because of early detection (like colonoscopies and mammograms) and cancer prevention secondary to reduction in cigarettes smoking.
I find it tempting to speculate that the increasing use of statins has indirectly contributed to the gradual reduction in cancer mortality and the slow rise in the population’s average life span.
Should you be taking a statin medication? Ask your medical health practitioner this question.
© 2012 Mandy Lender MD