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No evidence that widely prescribed statins protect against prostate cancer

PHILADELPHIA − A large community-based study refutes previous findings that statins a top-selling drug class, worldwide -- might cut ones risk of developing prostate cancer by reducing production of the male hormones that fuel cancer growth.

Researchers from the New England Research Institutes found that while men using statins did indeed have lower blood levels of androgens such as testosterone, it was more likely attributable to poor health rather than the use of statins. Their findings are published in the August issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The public health significance is that our study provides evidence that statins may not have a clinically meaningful impact on testosterone in the blood, although further studies should be done, said study author, Susan A. Hall, Ph.D., a research scientist at the New England Research Institutes. That doesnt mean that statins may be lowering prostate cancer risk through one or more alternative pathways, but it doesnt appear to be working through reduction of male hormones,

Statins lower cholesterol and are commonly prescribed to treat and prevent heart disease. Since cholesterol is required for the production of male hormones researchers have theorized that statins may reduce production of these hormones. A large, recent study found that men using statin drugs were at lowered risk of developing metastatic or fatal prostate cancer, especially if the drugs were used over a long period of time. But other studies on statin use and prostate cancer risk have had mixed results, according to Hall.

To study a narrow question − whether statin use reduces androgen concentrations in the blood − the researchers examined data from the Boston Area Community Health (BACH) survey, a population-based, NIH-sponsored, epidemiologic study. Data were collected between 2002 and 2005 on thousands of
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Contact: Greg Lester
lester@aacr.org
267-646-0554
American Association for Cancer Research
9-Aug-2007


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