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Statins Won't Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Date:4/19/2010

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may even raise risk of precancerous polyps, study finds

MONDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Statins don't lower the risk of colorectal cancer, and may even increase the chances of developing precancerous polyps, new research suggests.

Statins are widely prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs sold in a variety of generic forms and brand names, including Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor.

Yet, researchers stressed that the results are "not conclusive," and that people taking statins to lower cholesterol and reduce their risk of heart attack should continue taking the drugs.

"We found patients in this study taking statins for more than three years tended to develop more premalignant colon lesions," said study author Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, chief of the division of surgical oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. "This is an interesting finding that needs to be followed up, but it should not raise alarm. No one should stop taking their statins."

The study is to be presented Monday at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in Washington, D.C., and it is also published online in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

The data used in the analysis was from an earlier clinical trial to determine if the cox-2 painkiller celecoxib (Celebrex) could be used to prevent colon cancer. That trial included 2,035 people who were at high risk of colon cancer and had already been diagnosed with precancerous polyps, or adenomas.

That study, published in 2006, found the celecoxib reduced the occurrence of adenomas, but it also more than doubled the risk of heart attack and other serious cardiac events.

As a result, celecoxib is not used to prevent colon cancer, though it is still prescribed for its original use, to treat arthritis.

About 36 percent of the people in the trial also h
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