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Statins: Do They Have a Potential Role in Cancer Prevention and Modifying Cancer-Related Outcomes?

Abstract

3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) are currently among the most commonly prescribed pharmaceutical agents worldwide. Apart from their well-established therapeutic value in cardiovascular disease, there is a long-standing debate on their potential association with cancer. To obtain and discuss the existing clinical evidence, an overview of meta-analysis articles addressing this issue was carried out. As of today, the accumulated evidence does not support the hypothesis that statins affect the risk of developing cancer, when they are taken at low doses for managing hypercholesterolaemia. However, current data cannot exclude an increased cancer risk in elderly patients associated with hydrophilic statin use, or decreases in the risks of certain cancers, such as gastric, oesophageal, liver, colorectal and advanced/aggressive prostate cancer. On the other hand, some recent observational studies have provided evidence that statins might be useful in modifying the prognosis of patients diagnosed with malignancy. Until a definitive benefit is demonstrated in randomized controlled trials, statins cannot be recommended either for cancer prevention or for modifying cancer-related outcomes. Further research is warranted to clarify the potential role(s) of statins in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

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No sources of funding were used in the preparation of this manuscript.

Dr. Stefanos Bonovas has no conflicts of interest to declare.

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Bonovas, S. Statins: Do They Have a Potential Role in Cancer Prevention and Modifying Cancer-Related Outcomes?. Drugs 74, 1841–1848 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40265-014-0309-2

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Keywords

  • Statin
  • Pravastatin
  • Rosuvastatin
  • Fluvastatin
  • Pitavastatin