Long-term statin use is unlikely to increase cancer risk

November 09, 2010

PHILADELPHIA -- Researchers have further established that long-term use of statins is unlikely to substantially increase or decrease overall cancer risk, according to study results presented at the Ninth Annual AACR Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, held Nov. 7-10, 2010, in Philadelphia.

Statins are a class of drugs commonly used in the United States to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. While study results to date have shown that short-term use of statins has little effect on risk of developing cancer, not much is known about long-term statin use and incidence of many cancers.

Eric J. Jacobs, Ph.D., strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology at the American Cancer Society, and colleagues examined the association between use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, predominantly statins, and the incidence of the 10 most common cancers, as well as overall cancer incidence.

The study included 133,255 participants in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort.

Participants completed several questionnaires that included information about a range of lifestyle and medical factors, including use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, and were followed over a period of about 10 years, according to Jacobs. During this time frame, more than 15,000 participants were diagnosed with cancer.

Using cholesterol-lowering drugs for five years or longer was not associated with overall cancer incidence, or incidence of bladder, breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, prostate, or renal cell cancer, but was associated with lower risk of melanoma, endometrial cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

"The lower risk of endometrial cancer and melanoma among long-term users has not been seen in most previous studies and was surprising," Jacobs said. "The lower risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma among statin users has been seen in some, but not all, previous studies."
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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 32,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. Including Cancer Discovery, the AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. AACR journals represented 20 percent of the market share of total citations in 2009. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists.

American Association for Cancer Research

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