Statins are a class of medications that are typically used only for reducing cholesterol levels. By lowering cholesterol the risk of coronary heart disease drops. There are currently over 30 million Americans that are prescribed statin medications to help control cholesterol. With this number of people using these drugs there is becoming a large pool of data to study what other effects people are experiencing from taking these medications. While there are negative side effects to consider there are also some positive benefits that are starting to emerge.
One such benefit that was discovered by a recent study is a reduced risk of prostate cancer. This study analyzed the data from over 55,000 men and found that there was a 30% decreased risk of prostate cancer among the men that were regularly taking statins. There was even more good news discovered in this study – besides the drop in prostate cancer risk, those that did develop prostate cancer had a 60% lower chance of being diagnosed with high-grade prostate cancer.
“Although prostate cancer is commonly diagnosed, few risk factors for high-grade prostate cancer are known and few prevention strategies exist,” said Wildon Farwell, MD, Veterans Affairs Healthcare System and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Learning more about the relationship between statins and prostate cancer may provide important clues into the basic biology of prostate cancer.”
Furthermore, a separate study suggests that statin use is linked to a decline in the recurrence of prostate cancer. Of men taking statins during the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, 11% experienced a recurrence of cancer within 5 years while those that were not on statins had a 17% return rate.
While statin medications do come with their own side effects that patients and doctors must consider, there is growing evidence that these drugs do have benefits beyond their initial use for decreasing heart disease risk.