Original Article

International Journal of Colorectal Disease

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 469-476

First online:

Statin use is associated with a reduced incidence of colorectal adenomatous polyps

  • Thomas BroughtonAffiliated withNorwich Medical School, University of East Anglia
  • , Jamie SingtonAffiliated withHistopathology Department, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital
  • , Ian L. P. BealesAffiliated withGastroenterology Department, Norfolk and Norwich University HospitalNorwich Medical School, University of East Anglia Email author 

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Hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) have been shown to have potentially useful anticancer effects against colorectal cancers in experimental studies, but clinical studies have shown inconsistent results on colorectal cancer incidence. Most colorectal cancers are believed to develop through the polyp-cancer sequence. We hypothesized that statins may protect against the development of adenomatous polyps, and this may contribute to the apparent cancer-protective effects.


This study aims to compare previous statin use in patients with newly diagnosed adenomatous polyps against a control group without polyps.


A case–control study involving 264 patients attending for diagnostic colonoscopy at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was used. Polyp cases were age and sex matched against controls with normal colonoscopies. Structured patient interviews and clinical notes were used to ascertain drug and risk factor. Logistic regression was used to compare statin exposure and correct for confounding factors.


There was a significant negative association between prior statin use and a diagnosis of adenomatous polyps [odds ratio (OR) = 0.40 (0.24–0.76)]. The association was significantly stronger with higher statin doses [≥40 mg simvastatin or equivalent; OR 0.33 (0.10–0.53)] or longer duration of use [>5 years; OR 0.36 (0.10–0.67)]. Statin use was negatively associated with both high- and low-risk polyps.


Statins may have a protective effect against the development of adenomatous polyps. The negative association between statin use and polyp incidence showed a significant dose and duration relationship.


Aspirin Chemoprevention Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase inhibitors Colorectal adenocarcinoma Colorectal adenomas