MONDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- Statin drugs commonly used to lower cholesterol levels may also slow the unhealthy growth of the prostate in men with elevated blood levels of prostate-specific antigen, a new study finds.
Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, levels are often elevated due to cancer or other conditions involving the prostate, explained researchers from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
The study authors noted that their findings are significant because an enlarged prostate affects up to 90 percent of men older than 70 years and can lead to bladder or kidney damage. Many of these men may already be taking a statin, which include cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Crestor, Lipitor, Pravachol or Zocor.
"Given that prostate enlargement is an important health problem in the United States and elsewhere, and will be a larger problem as the population ages, it's important to understand and treat its causes," the study's lead author, Dr. Roberto Muller, a urology fellow at Duke, said in a medical center news release.
The study, which was funded by drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, is scheduled to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Atlanta.
In the research, Muller and his team sifted through data on more than 6,000 men involved in an unrelated GlaxoSmithKline trial for a prostate cancer drug. The researchers identified over 1,000 men enrolled in the study who also took a statin.
Although the men who took these cholesterol drugs tended to be older and were expected to have enlarged prostates, the study revealed the prostates of these men were similar in size to those who did not take statins.
After two years, the researchers also found that the men who took statins had reduced prostate growth regardless of whether or not they had taken the prostate cancer drug as part of the larger study.
Specifically, prostate growth was an ave
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