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Biologic and epidemiologic evidence assessing if statins prevent prostate cancer
Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, CancerCare Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Dec  2017 (Vol.  24, Issue  6, Pages( 9081 - 9088)
PMID: 29260632


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    During their lives, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Several drugs have been shown to decrease prostate cancer risk, but have not been widely used in prostate cancer prevention because of concerns about side-effects and cost-effectiveness. Statins are indicated for prevention of cardiovascular disease, have an excellent benefit to risk profile, and some studies suggest that statins may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.


    We performed a systematic search of Medline (Ovid), EMBASE (Ovid), and PubMed. This search informed a narrative review of the biological rationale for why statins may reduce prostate cancer risk and an evaluation of the existing epidemiological evidence to determine whether further studies are needed to assess the true impact of statins on prostate cancer risk.


    Statins may help prevent the development of prostate cancer through inhibition of sustained proliferative signals (androgen and Ras/Rho), sensitizing potentially malignant cells to programmed cell death, minimizing inflammation, reducing angiogenesis, and impeding invasiveness by blocking adhesion molecules. The epidemiologic literature examining the effect of statin use on overall prostate cancer diagnosis is highly heterogeneous, with relative risks of 0.26 to 2.94. Out of 33 published studies, 5 show an increased risk of prostate cancer with statin use, 10 demonstrate a decreased risk, and 18 suggest no effect.


    There is a compelling pre-clinical rationale for statins as potential chemopreventive agents. However, large, population-based studies with long pre-diagnosis drug exposure data are needed to investigate the impact of statin exposure on prostate cancer incidence.