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Statins decrease risk of colon cancer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- People who took a type of cholesterol-lowering drug for five years had nearly half the risk of developing colon cancer, even when they had a family history of the disease or other risk factors, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Results of the study appear in the May 26 New England Journal of Medicine.

Statins, such as Zocor, Pravachol or Lipitor, are typically used for lowering cholesterol and have been shown to be effective at preventing cardiovascular disease.

"This is an important piece of the puzzle. This piece helps bring together evidence that statins may have the potential to prevent chronic diseases other than heart disease, and helps us consider ways to study these powerful drugs for more than one purpose," says study author Stephen Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of internal medicine and human genetics at the U-M Medical School and associate professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health.

Data was based on the Molecular Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer study, a population-based case-control study of colorectal cancer in northern Israel. The researchers analyzed 1,953 people with colorectal cancer and 2,015 control subjects who did not have colon cancer. All study participants were asked to recall every medication they had used for at least five years. Statin use was determined based on this list and validated against prescription records from the health care provider.

The people without colon cancer were nearly twice as likely to report taking statins for at least five years, compared to the people with a history of colon cancer, 11.6 percent vs. 6.1 percent.

Researchers analyzed the data taking into account increased or decreased risk associated with demographic factors such as age, sex and ethnic background, and with lifestyle factors such as taking aspirin, participating in sports and eating vegetables. T
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