The anticancer effect of statins – drugs to normalize cholesterol

Statins were not trusted at first, then they were praised, and they continue to discover their unique possibilities. This time, studies have proven their effectiveness in the fight against cancer.

Spanish online publication reports on the latest studies on statin pharmacological properties El confidencial… It recalls that these drugs were originally designed to lower cholesterol levels. However, their additional capabilities were gradually revealed – they prevented the development of Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, alleviated the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and were also quite effective in the treatment of some other ailments.

But recent studies have shown that statins can save women suffering from the most common cancers – melanoma, rectal and breast tumors from death.

The first drug (lovastatin) was certified for sale in the United States in 1987 and was intended to normalize cholesterol. But after 7 years, in 1994, scientists sensationally proved its effect on improving survival in heart disease. And this was only the first step towards the overwhelming success and demand for statins, which are called a real sensation of the XXI century.

Another major study published in The Lancet found statins to significantly improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The Archives of Neurology has published data on the positive effect of statins on preventing Alzheimer’s disease and reducing the number of deaths from stroke. And in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a study found statins to reduce the risk of bone fractures. Several studies have focused on the effect of cancer prevention and have shown positive results.

The proven effectiveness of the drugs has made them extremely popular. According to the data of the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Sanitary Products, from 2000 to 2012, the consumption of these drugs increased by 44%, and they confidently entered the ten most demanded and sold. But, as usual, the drugs have a lot of opponents, who argue their attitude by the presence of side effects after taking statins. The Lancet published a list of possible consequences:

memory impairment; erectile disfunction; migraine; problems with the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys and liver; diabetes.

But back to oncology and the ability of statins to reduce mortality in some types of cancer. The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology recently published an article on the work of the Brisbane Institute for Medical Research, authored by Jia-li Feng and Xiwen Quin. Funding for the large study was provided by the National Council for Medical Research and Health Australia. Based on its results, it was concluded that “conscientious adherence” to the statin regimen significantly reduces the mortality rate from rectal and breast cancer, as well as melanoma.

Earlier, a similar study was conducted at the University of Aston Birmingham (UK), the results of which showed that statin use reduced mortality in the four most common types of cancer: lung, rectum, breast, and prostate. In the course of the work, the authors analyzed the medical records of 929,552 patients, taking into account the main criteria: type of disease, duration of inpatient treatment, mortality. 7997 participants were diagnosed with lung cancer, 4629 with prostate cancer, 5481 with breast cancer, and 4570 with rectal cancer.

The latest study was conducted in women with cancer from 2003 to 2013. Of these: 20,046 suffered from breast cancer, 11,719 were diagnosed with rectal cancer, melanoma was found in 6430 women. All of them took statins to lower their cholesterol levels even before the tumor was detected. The most conscientious patients, who continued to take their drugs scrupulously for a year after cancer detection, had the lowest probability of death, which convincingly confirms the antitumor effect of statins. Jia-li Feng says:

“If the inverse relationship between intake and response is confirmed, then cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins can be used as adjuvant therapy to improve cancer prognosis. To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the relationship between therapy acceptance and specific survival in three biologically homogeneous cohorts. ”





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