Statins May Reduce Mortality Risk in Prostate Cancer Patients

NOVEMBER 11, 2013
Aimee Simone, Assistant Editor
Risk of death from prostate cancer was reduced for patients who started taking statins after being diagnosed with the disease and was reduced even more for those who started taking statins before being diagnosed.

A new study suggests that in addition to improving outcomes in patients with high cholesterol, statins may also reduce the risk of death in prostate cancer patients. In the study, patients who used statins before and after receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis experienced the greatest benefits.
Although several previous studies have assessed a potential beneficial effect of statins on prostate cancer outcomes, the results have been inconsistent, most likely due to limitations and variations in study design. The current study, published online on November 4, 2013, in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, primarily investigated the association between statin use after prostate cancer diagnosis and the risk of prostate cancer mortality. In secondary analyses, the study also evaluated the relationship between statin use and risk of all-cause mortality, and the effects of statin use before prostate cancer diagnosis.
Using the United Kingdom National Cancer Registry, a large, population-based electronic database, the researchers identified newly diagnosed non-metastatic prostate cancer patients from April 1998 through December 2009 who were followed until October 2012. These patients were then linked to 3 additional databases to obtain tumor information, hospital records, and death certificates. All patients were followed for at least 1 year and were observed until they ended their registration with their general practice, the end of the study period, or death, whichever came first.
A total of 11,772 non-metastatic prostate cancer patients were enrolled in the study and followed for an average of 4.4 years. The results indicated that patients who used statins after their cancer diagnosis had a 24% reduced risk of death caused by prostate cancer. A dose-response relationship was also observed; statins were more beneficial to patients who took higher cumulative doses for longer periods of time. In a secondary analysis, statins were found to decrease the risk of all-cause mortality by 14%. In addition, patients who took statins both before and after their prostate cancer diagnosis were found to have a 45% reduction in risk for death related to prostate cancer and a 34% reduction in risk of all-cause mortality. The researchers also found statin use to be associated with a decreased risk of distant metastasis.
The authors note that their study is the largest to evaluate the relationship between statin use and prostate cancer outcomes and may be more reliable than previous studies due to its design and lengthy follow-up. However, the authors note that the study did have limitations, including potential misclassification of mortality, missing prescription information, and variations in adherence to the statin regimen by patients.
“Finally, although the results of this study provide evidence that the use of statins may be associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer mortality, additional well-conducted observational studies are needed to confirm these findings before launching randomized controlled trials assessing the effects of statins in the adjuvant setting,” the authors write.