Statin use and all-cause mortality among prostate cancer patients

Yet another study involving a large number of patients (this one from Taiwan) has again concluded that men with prostate cancer who take statins are less likely to die within a definable time period than men with prostate cancer who are not taking statins.

In this paper, using a population-based cohortapproach, Sun et al. have shown that prostate cancer patients taking a stain wereabout 35 percent less likely to die from any cause that a comparable, matched set of patients with prostate cancer who were not taking a station during the same time period. They state that this effect was observed “among various types of statin, age groups, and treatment methods.”

The study involved a retrospective analysis of data from 5,179 men with prostate cancer who were taking a statin for at least 6 months between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2010, and an comparable group of prostate cancer patients who did not use any type of statin-based drugs during the study period — randomly matched to the statin-taking patients by age and index date.

Sun et al. also found that, when they looked carefully at the defined daily dose of statins being taken by the “on statin” patients, the low- and the high-dose groups both had significantly decreased death rates compared with non-statin users, suggesting the possibility of a dose-response relationship.

The logic behind this continuing series of findings is not hard to understand. Statin therapy affects risk of death from a series of cardiovascular problems that is far more common than risk of death from prostate cancer.

What we still do not have a good understanding of, however, is whether there is a definable subgroup of prostate cancer patients who are not taking statin therapy (because there is no apparent medical evidence of the necessity) who should be on statin therapy because it will significant affect their overall risk for death.

2 Responses

  1. If only there were a better consensus about who should be taking statins (regardless of cancer status)! About a year and a half ago the ACA released new cholesterol management guidelines that created quite a bit of controversy … because it would result in so many more folks receiving statin prescriptions. I have been on a low dose of statins for at least 10 years (and I am a diligent exercise enthusiast, and aim towards a Pritikin type diet).

    After the guidelines came out, my doctor suggested upping my statin dose somewhat (still not high intensity therapy). That did lower my LDL another 10 pts to close to 90. Still, I see quite a bit of disagreement over this, and a lot of talk about the side effects of statins (I haven’t noticed any side effects … but that doesn’t mean I am not experiencing any).

    Really, the same thing goes on in BP targets. For a long while the target was 120/80. Then, those were relaxed, especially for older folks. A new study by the NIH called SPRINT is now suggesting the target should be 120/80 as a maximum for pretty much everybody (which, for some people, would require fairly high doses of three different BP medicines).

    Arrgghh. Tell us what to do, and we’ll do it. Just make you your minds, docs!

  2. Doug,

    And … what about the alleged increase in statin-related diabetes frequency?

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