Prostate Cancer Risk of Obese Men Elevated by Use of Statins

Jun 14, 2009 by

Prostate Cancer Risk of Obese Men Elevated by Use of Statins

There had been previous suggestions that statins, which are pharmaceutical drugs often prescribed to control cholesterol levels, could have a positive effect in terms of lowering prostate cancer risk. Could this be true?

The following article highlights research which suggests the opposite is in fact the case – that statins increase prostate cancer risk in obese men, instead.

Statins Raise Prostate Cancer Risk of Obese Men

by Reuben Chow

A study conducted earlier this year at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research in Seattle found that the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, especially when used long-term, seems to raise the risk of prostate cancer among obese men.

Background

Statin drugs inhibits the enzyme which controls the conversion of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A to mevalonate; mevalonate is an essential precursor of cholesterol. Thus, statins are used extensively to treat high cholesterol.

In some studies, statin drugs have been shown to lower the incidence and mortality rates of cardiovascular disease. This has contributed to the skyrocketing use of statins over the last decade or so.

With specific regard to prostate cancer, the use of statins has also recently raised interest. Without being too technical, it suffices to say that, by inhibiting certain processes and chemicals, statin drugs directly or indirectly influence cell signaling pathways, cell growth, cell apoptosis, cell proliferation, inflammation, oxidative stress, angiogenesis and metastasis. These factors all influence cancer in some way.

Some observational studies had previously shown that statin use lowers prostate cancer risk, while others have not found any connection. In fact, in two studies, statin use was linked to an increase in overall risk of getting prostate cancer. The Fred Hutchinson study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, thus sought to further examine the relationship between statin use and prostate cancer risk.

Details and Findings of Study

In the study, which was population-based and case-controlled, 1,001 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2002 and 2005 were compared with 942 cancer-free controls from King County in Washington. The two groups of men were matched for age.

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