The researchers found that patients who had been in the placebo group and who used statins at any time were no less likely to develop adenomas over a five-year period compared with those patients who never used statins.
For those who took statins for three years or longer, the chances of developing the adenomas were nearly 40 percent higher than those not on statins. Those taking celecoxib and statins did not have an increased chance of developing adenomas, probably because the anti-tumor effects of celecoxib canceled out any tumor-promoting effect of the statins, according to the study.
While statins aren't helpful in preventing colorectal cancer, experts from the American Cancer Society also urged people to continue taking statins for cardiovascular health.
"The suggestion of higher risk of colorectal polyp recurrence among a subgroup of statin users in this study may be due to chance and should not raise concerns," said Eric Jacobs, the American Cancer Society's strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology. "A similar previous study of polyp recurrence did not find higher risk among statin users. Statins are valuable drugs, proven to reduce risk of heart disease. Results of this study should not influence decisions about statin use."
For now, the best way to prevent colon cancer is to make sure you get a colonoscopy screening at age 50, or earlier for those with a family history, Bertagnolli said.
The American Cancer Society has more on colorectal cancer.
SOURCES: Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., chief, division of surgical oncology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and professor, surgery, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Eric
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