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Fluke or Trend? Statins vs Cancer Deaths

Posted Nov 09 2012 3:00am
For all the good that's been attributed to statins ( multiple randomized controlled trials demonstrate decrease in all-cause mortality and more recently, a decrease risk of pancreatitis ), they are also the recipients of much scorn w/recent revision of their class labeling to include both an increase risk of hyperglycemia as well as cognitive dysfunction .  This is, of course, in addition to the known risk of liver dysfunction and rhabdomyolysis.

So in an attempt to continue to drink from the fire hydrant of medical research, I thought I'd mention a population study of 295,925 Danes published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine in which the authors concluded that statin use was associated with decrease risk of cancer mortality.  The authors arrived at their conclusion by comparing all those older than 40yo who'd received a cancer diagnosis over a 12 year period and who'd received a statin to those diagnosed with cancer but who had not taken a statin previously.   

As noted in other studies, because this was an observational study, the authors readily acknowledged that randomized controlled trials are needed to determine the direction, if any, of cause & effect.  But lest you think this study was a fluke, check out studies published in January 2008  &  April 2008 , both concluding that statin use was associated with lower risk of cancer incidence.  So while I can't advocate & recommend taking a statin to prevent cancer, these studies, taken in whole, lend support to continuing therapy as directed by your physician.  But let's not forget that the basis of your health starts w/regular physical activity & good nutrition.  Statins should only be used for approved indications for now.  But who knows?  Maybe in a few years we'll be taking statins to lower your risk of cancer.

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