, Volume 69, Issue 11, pp 1445–1457 | Cite as

Statin Use and Risk of Colorectal Cancer in a Cohort of Middle-Aged Men in the US

A Prospective Cohort Study
  • E. Dawn Flick
  • Laurel A. Habel
  • K. Arnold Chan
  • Reina Haque
  • Virginia P. Quinn
  • Stephen K. Van Den Eeden
  • Barbara Sternfeld
  • Endel J. Orav
  • John D. Seeger
  • Charles P. QuesenberryJr
  • Bette J. CaanEmail author
Original Research Article


Background: Numerous modifiable factors have been associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, including the chronic use of NSAIDs. Thus, it is biologically plausible that HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), therapeutic agents that also possess anti-inflammatory effects, are also associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.

Objective: To examine the association between statin use and the risk of colorectal cancer in a large cohort of middle-aged men enrolled in a prepaid, integrated health maintenance organization.

Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study of 69 115 Northern and Southern California Kaiser Permanente (KP) members aged 45–69 years who enrolled in the California Men’s Health Study in 2002–3. Colorectal cancer cases were identified by linkage to the KP California Cancer Registries. Statin exposure, estimated from automated KP outpatient pharmacy records (available since 1991 in Southern California and 1994 in Northern California), was treated as time-varying. Cox proportional hazards regression analyses were used to estimate hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), while controlling for potential confounders.

Results: During a maximum of 3.5 years of follow-up, 171 colorectal cancer cases were identified. Compared with nonuse, the adjusted hazard ratio for ever use of statins was 0.89 (95% CI 0.61, 1.30). The hazard ratio for statin use of ≥5 years was 0.83 (95% CI 0.43, 1.63). The results did not differ markedly by type or severity of disease. There was also no evidence of effect modification by regular NSAID use. However, the stratified analyses were limited by small numbers.

Conclusion: These findings provide little support for an association between the use of statins and the risk of colorectal cancer in men. There was some suggestion of a modest inverse association between statin use for ≥5 years and risk of colorectal cancer; however, the possibility that this observation may be related to regular NSAID use cannot be ruled out.


Colorectal Cancer Statin Colorectal Cancer Risk Statin User Colorectal Cancer Case 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The California Men’s Health Study (CMHS) was supported in part by funds from the California Cancer Research Program (grant number 99-86883). Drs Flick and Chan were partially funded by the Harvard Pharmacoepidemiology Research and Training Fund. The Fund received unrestricted grants from drug companies. Dr Habel has received research support through contracts with the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute from Merck, Eli Lily, Genomic Health, Takeda, AviaraDx, GenenTech and Roche. None of these industry sponsors had any role in this study; they did not sponsor the research, have any role in its design, data collection, analysis, interpretation or drafting. Drs Flick and Habel were supported in part by National Cancer Institute Grant R01 CA98838.

We would like to acknowledge Shelley M. Enger, PhD (Department of Research & Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente, Pasadena, CA, USA), for her contributions to the CMHS conception, design, questionnaire development and data collection. We would also like to thank Virginia Cantrell, MS, RD (Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, CA, USA), for her assistance in the management and administration of the CMHS. We also acknowledge In-Lu Amy Liu, MS, from the Department of Research and Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente, and Ai-Lin Tsai, MS, MA, and Natalia Udaltsova, PhD, from the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente, for their programming assistance.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Dawn Flick
    • 1
    • 3
  • Laurel A. Habel
    • 1
  • K. Arnold Chan
    • 3
    • 4
  • Reina Haque
    • 2
  • Virginia P. Quinn
    • 2
  • Stephen K. Van Den Eeden
    • 1
  • Barbara Sternfeld
    • 1
  • Endel J. Orav
    • 5
  • John D. Seeger
    • 3
    • 4
  • Charles P. QuesenberryJr
    • 1
  • Bette J. Caan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of ResearchKaiser PermanenteOaklandUSA
  2. 2.Department of Research & EvaluationKaiser PermanentePasadenaUSA
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  4. 4.i3 Drug SafetyWalthamUSA
  5. 5.Division of General MedicineBrigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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