Statins May Help Slow Progression Of Prostate Cancer
A new study suggests that statins, drugs commonly used to lower cholesterol, may also slow the progression of prostate cancer.
An article published in HealthDay News reports that according to the study’s lead author, Dr. Lauren Christine Harshman, an assistant professor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, patients who took statins in addition to androgen deprivation therapy slowed the progress of their prostate cancer by approximately 10 months.
While the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link between statin use and prostate cancer survival, an association was made. Prostate cancer feeds on androgens (male hormones) such as testosterone. Prostate cancer is often treated by using medications to suppress levels of androgens in a man’s body.
According to Dr. Harshman, and Dr. Charles Ryan, an ASCO expert and associate professor of medicine and urology at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco, who offered similar research on this subject in the past, statins may affect prostate cancer in a couple of different ways:
The body produces male hormones “based on a cholesterol backbone,” Ryan said. By reducing cholesterol levels, statins might cause a reduction in available androgens by inadvertently robbing the body of a key building block for those hormones.
On the other hand, statins might interfere with the process through which prostate tumor cells absorb male hormones, Harshman said.
Laboratory tests have shown that statins tend to crowd out androgens, beating them in line to be absorbed by prostate cancer cells, she said.
Harshman and Ryan both agree that follow-up clinical trials are needed to verify findings.
Patients with prostate cancer should discuss medical options with their doctor before deciding to take statins. For questions about statins and their potential risks and benefits, please visit any Owens Healthcare location and speak with one of our pharmacists.