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Statins & Cancer Risk

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    Effects

    • Browning and Martin (2006) conducted a systematic review of studies on the effects of statins on cancer risk. Based on 26 trials, Browning and Martin (2006) found that there was no evidence that statin therapy increases the risk of developing all cancers. This is also true when Browning and Martin (2006) considered studies focusing on breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer separately.

      In a more recent systematic review, Kuoppala et al. (2008) also concluded that statins had no effect on the overall incidence of cancer.

    Significance

    • There are a large number of people who are using statin therapy to lower cholesterol, particularly with the recent emphasis on primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, it is very important to make sure that statins do not have adverse effects, including increasing risk of cancers.

    Benefits

    • Kuoppala et al. (2008) reported that statin therapy might have protective effects against stomach and liver cancer and lymphoma, although the evidence is not conclusive.

    Considerations

    • Hoffmeister et al (2008) reported that use of stain in combination with aspirin for five years or more lead to a reduction of 62 percent in colorectal cancer.

    Expert Insight

    • Based on the existing evidence, it is safe to conclude that statins do not increase cancer risk at short-term. However, it is still not clear whether statins might increase cancer risk at long-term. To address this question, it is important to conduct high-quality cohort studies with a long follow-up.

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