Statins and Cancer: A Potential Link?

American Journal of Therapeutics, 07/16/2010

Hypercholesterolemia is a growing health concern in the United States. Pharmacotherapy is increasingly being used to combat the long-term consequences of elevated cholesterol levels. One of the primary pharmacological treatments for hypercholesterolemia is a class of lipid lowering drugs collectively referred to as statins. After introduction of the first statin in 1987, their use quickly became the norm. Recent release of the results from the Simvastatin and Ezetimibe in Aortic Stenosis (SEAS) study unveiled a potential increased risk of cancer and cancer death for individuals taking the well-known drug combination of ezetimibe/simvastatin. Our aim with this review is to look at previous studies to see if any other studies have shown a similar correlation between statins or other lipid-lowering drugs and cancer. The associated studies gathered are reviews, randomized, controlled trials, editorials, and commentaries. We obtained these studies by using electronic searches such as PubMed, Medline, and Cochrane Library. Searches were limited in that certain keywords took precedence, and articles mainly focusing on statins and ezetimibe as opposed to other lipid-lowering drugs were chosen. We have shown that aside from the SEAS study, there are numerous other studies that have also found potential links between statins and various forms of cancer. However, there is also an abundance of literature showing the contrary. Currently, scientific data are slightly in favor of the notion that statins do not cause a significant increase in cancer rates. However, there are many studies that show small correlations between statin use and increased incidence of cancer and therefore, we feel further prospective studies are needed. Whether statins do cause cancer remains uncertain at this point in time.

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