STATIN TREATMENT & CANCER PROGRESSION
There have been studies that highlight the potential benefit of statins in reducing the chance of prostate cancer. There is at least a conceptual correlation to the antioxidant effect of these drugs. The mechanism is likely via effect on the Akt/NF-kB pathway, so altering the likelihood of survival of malignant cells that come into intimate contact with therapeutic molecules. There are a couple of relevant papers at the following web pages http://atvb.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/27/1/92 and http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/102/9/1020.
Men treated with statins have shown lower PSA profiles, so you would expect the risk of prostate cancer to be lower. In fact, one article says “By lowering PSA levels, statins may complicate cancer detection” http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/100/21/1511 . But the issue still to be settled is the mechanism by which this correlation is generated. It is always possible, if not probable, that effect of the statins may be at the wrong end of the equation – altering the indicator value but not limiting the cancerous progression. We have all seen the TV meteorologist who comes to believe that he actually controls the weather. He forgets that even if correlations are repeatable, they have to be dissected in order to establish true cause.
The American Cancer Society website carries a current article about statins and cancer: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/NWS/content/NWS_1_1x_C…ins_Prevent_Cancer.asp. This includes the broad comment that the results of lab studies have shown that statins interfere with cancer cell growth, but researchers have been unable to show clearly that the drugs reduce cancer risk in people. “Randomized trials have definitively shown that using statins does not reduce cancer risk, at least in the short-term, and most previous observational studies have not found clear evidence that even long-term statin use can protect against cancer. While statins remain important drugs for the prevention of heart disease, they should not be used in the hopes of preventing cancer.” This is echoed at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/statins .
Given reports suggesting that statins might vary immensely in anti-oxidative power, it is dangerous to make any conclusion about benefit without at least being consistent regarding the statins in use within any data base. In the absence of such, it is not possible to do more than search for evidence of dramatic change induced coincidentally by statin treatment. One retrospective study was reported recently with respect to potential interference of statins with Rituxan therapy. The data shows there isn’t any overriding negative effect: http://ash.confex.com/ash/2008/webprogram/Paper8512.html . However a comment is made regarding possible positive effects of undetermined statin use on the efficacy of Rituxan treatment for follicular lymphoma.
At this point, I can see no reason to base any decision favoring elevated statin use on such data. All we can say is that detrimental effects are not shown, while positive effects could perhaps be possible. Media reports, of course, always stifle such cautionary notes.
Be well, try to be wise,