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Statins Don't Cut Cancer Risk
Date:2/5/2009

Animal study found 2 popular cholesterol-lowering drugs had little effect on tumors

THURSDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Statins have clearly proven their mettle against heart disease, but the cholesterol-lowering drugs don't appear to possess cancer-fighting powers, a new animal study shows.

"We certainly didn't see any positive effects," said Ronald Lubet, program director in the division of cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute. He led the study using mice and rats, which was published in the February issue of Cancer Prevention Research.

Lubet and his colleagues studied the effects of two popular cholesterol-lowering drugs, atorvastatin (Lipitor) and lovastatin (Mevacor), in warding off breast cancer. "The initial dose was about twice as high as what a person would typically use," he said. "The second dose was even higher."

Some researchers were hoping statins might have a double-edged effect, reducing heart disease risk as well as guarding against cancer. For instance, one recent study found that men who took statins had lower blood levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a biomarker for prostate cancer risk.

And in a report published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2006, researchers found statins were associated with lower breast cancer incidence among women in the large-scale Women's Health Initiative trial and called for further study of the possible link.

Exactly how statins might fight cancer isn't certain. But Lubet's group did not see any such potential with the statins it tested.

The researchers gave Lipitor at a dose of either 125 milligrams or 500 milligrams per kilogram of body weight to the animals, mixing it into their diet, but it showed no anti-cancer effect.

They also compared the use of the anti-cancer drugs tamoxifen and bexarotene by themselves and with atorvastatin. The anti-cancer drugs reduced breast t
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