Health Team

Cholesterol drugs might reduce risk of prostate cancer

Posted November 3, 2008

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— Certain medicines used to lower cholesterol may also lower levels of a blood antigen that indicates a higher risk of prostate cancer.

However, researchers at Duke University Medical Center aren't ready to say that taking the drugs would lower a man's chance of getting prostate cancer.

A few years ago, Joe Vietri's doctor told him he had high cholesterol. "He wanted me to take certain medications and prescribed Lipitor to me to lower cholesterol," Vietri said.

Vietri also learned that he had a high PSA – or prostate-specific antigen in the blood – which indicates a higher risk of prostate cancer. The drug his doctor prescribed for him, Lipitor, is part of a group of medications called statins that appear to also lower PSA levels.

Dr. Stephen Freedland, a urological surgeon at Duke, led a study that reviewed the medical records of 1,200 men who went to the Durham Veteran Affairs' Medical Center for 16 years. The men, like Vietri, were on statin medications.

Several previous studies showed that statins might reduce the risk of advanced prostate cancer, but the reason why was unclear. The Duke study was the first to look specifically at PSA levels to see how statins affected the prostate in a large group of men.

"Their PSAs went down by about 4 percent, which is on the modest side, but as men age, we expected their PSAs to go up, not down," Freedland said.

Also, the more cholesterol went down, the more PSA went down, the study found.

"I think it's exciting to think there may be this link between cholesterol and prostate health," Freedland said.

Most of the men in the study took simvastatin, known by the brand name Zocor, but Freeland said that any statin medication would have the same affect on PSA levels.

However, the surgeon cautioned that more research is needed before he can definitively say that statins cut the risk of cancer. To achieve that, people should use diet and regular exercise to get to and keep a healthy weight, he said.

Vietri agreed, saying he has been doing that, along with taking a statin.

"I watched my diet pretty closely, avoided fatty foods," he said.

Vietri has also gotten regular screenings, so that if he does get prostate cancer, he will catch it early, when the disease is the most treatable.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • vote4changeASAP Nov 6, 2008

    Chemically altered FATS, not foods.

  • JaredsMom Nov 5, 2008

    Chemically altered food is killing us! Almost EVERYTHING we eat and drink is chemically altered.

  • CrewMax Nov 4, 2008

    "You now need to print a story on the dangers of taking statins!!!"
    You are right about that. I started taking Lipitor about 12 years ago and it hurt my joints so badly I had to be taken off it. Since then, I have been on Zokor to mixed results. Only when I started takig "Cholest-off" (Wal-mart) did my LDL go down, HDL went up and my Triglycerides came down from 650 (!) to 249. (I have no interest in the over the counter treatment other than in using it.)

  • OLD PIRATE 2 Nov 4, 2008

    I agree with post that its the fats that are a problem. While my
    cholesterol has always been low, and my PSA was only 2.7, I "HAD" prostate cancer. I don't mention this to alarm but to advise you men to have an annual check up and do the PSA. They not only are concerned about the level of the PSA but the rapid increase. DRE's and PSA are also two important parts to this story.

  • vote4changeASAP Nov 4, 2008

    Why won't researchers use federal funding to determine the effects that processed foods and processed fats have on our bodies instead of selling us high priced drugs to fix our problems?

    Eliminate those foods from your diet instead of taking drugs to offset the effects of eating them. For 25 years, doctors have told us to reduce saturated fat intake to lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease. Since then, we are force fed artificial fats, and as a result more women are diagnosed with breast cancer, men have more prostate cancer, more heart disease and type II diabetes and higher obesity rates in children.

    Chemically altered fats are killing us.

  • Z Man Nov 4, 2008

    How tired are we of the 'might', 'may', 'seem', 'could', etc. etc. This is not news, it's speculation. Even the next story uses 'seem' in the headline. Here's an idea... get back to us when you have facts.

  • ghines Nov 4, 2008

    You now need to print a story on the dangers of
    taking statins!!!