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Cholesterol-lowering drugs may also lower PSA, but whether they cut cancer risk is still not known
Date:10/28/2008

DURHAM, N.C. -- Popular cholesterol-busting drugs -- statins -- appear to lower men's PSA values along with their cholesterol levels, according to researchers in the Duke Prostate Center and the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. But whether the drugs prevent prostate cancer growth or just mask it is not known yet.

"Previous studies had shown that men taking statins were less likely to develop advanced forms of prostate cancer but no one had looked at the relationship between the drugs and prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, a biomarker that is correlated with cancer growth and is the most common prostate cancer screening tool," said Stephen Freedland, M.D., a urologist at Duke and senior investigator on the study. "Our study represents a move to understand if and how statins influence prostate biology and whether they are really reducing cancer risk, or simply making PSA a less effective screening tool."

The study was published in the October 28, 2008 issue Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The research was funded by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, The United States Department of Defense and the American Urological Association Foundation's Astellas Rising Star in Urology Award, given to Freedland.

The researchers reviewed the medical records of 1214 men who were prescribed statins between 1990 and 2006 at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Men with prostate cancer were excluded from the study.

They found that PSA levels declined by an average of about four percent after starting statins, compared to no decline in the year before starting the statins, Freedland said. Bigger declines occurred in men who took higher doses of statins and who had the largest decreases in cholesterol levels. Also, the higher the PSA levels were initially, the more they were seen to decline, Freedland said.

"This is important because we had some men who started with PSA levels that looked to
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Contact: Lauren Shaftel Williams
lauren.shaftel@duke.edu
919-684-4966
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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