Statins May Not Prevent Cancers

Published Online: Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Several major studies have shown that the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins, once thought to be beneficial in preventing certain cancers, actually have little or no effect. Previous studies had shown statins to be effective in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer by 47%, and a 10% decrease in instances of melanoma in patients taking statins. New studies, however, showed that the older studies "had a lot of methodological flaws,"according to researchers.

One study looked at 27 trials of statins, for a total of ~87,000 participants, and found no reduced incidence of colorectal and other cancers in people taking the drugs, compared with those not taking them. Another study produced similar findings in 132,136 participants in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutritional Cohort.

A third study looked at data from 16 high-quality studies that included 62,197 people who had been examined for melanomas. Although the instance of decreased risk of melanoma was present in those taking statins, compared with those who were not, researchers insist that they should not be relied upon as preventive agents for cancer.

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