Health Team

Drug that lowers cholesterol may impact prostate cancer

Posted July 5, 2010 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated July 5, 2010 6:25 p.m. EDT

— A popular drug used to lower cholesterol may also impact prostate cancer. Several studies have shown a link between cholesterol and the risk of prostate cancer.

Duke researchers said they have discovered benefits of statin medications for men who've had prostate cancer surgery.

Three years ago, Charles Jackson learned he had prostate cancer. He chose surgery to remove the gland.

“(I’ve) not really had a problem since then. It was the best decision to make,” Jackson said.

He also took part in a study with the V.A. Hospital and Duke in which he took a statin medication for lowering cholesterol.

Duke Urologic surgeon Dr. Stephen Freedland led the study of 1,300 men, like Jackson, who had prostate cancer surgery. They were followed for four years to compare cancer recurrence in those who took statins and those who did not.

“And what we saw was that the men on statins had about a 30 percent lower risk that the cancer would come back,” Freedland said.

They also looked at results of those on higher doses of statins.

“So if you were on an intermediate to high dose statin, it was actually 40 to 50 percent reduced risk that the cancer would come back,” Freedland said.

The results aren't enough to prescribe statins solely to prevent cancer recurrence, but it strengthens the link between cholesterol levels and prostate cancer and natural ways to lower cholesterol, such as diet and exercise.

“Just losing weight, regardless of how you lose the weight, lowers cholesterol levels,” Freedland said.

That's how Jackson is controlling his cholesterol now without medication.

“I think my cholesterol stays intact. It runs around 160, somewhere in there,” he said.

That’s a good number that should decrease his risk and his worries about dealing with cancer ever again.

The Duke study was published in the journal, "Cancer."