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Statins don't raise cancer risk

Recent research quells concerns that taking statins might raise the risk of cancer.

Statins dont raise cancer risk

Recent research quells concerns that taking statins might raise the risk of cancer.

Statins are widely prescribed drugs for the management of abnormal lipid levels, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular diseases. Unsettled scientific debate about the association of statins with cancer continues, with studies showing conflicting results.

To determine whether cancer can be attributed to statin use among a general population of older adults, researchers in the US studied 91,000 adults whose full medical records were available via an electronic database and reported that there was no significant difference in cancer risk among those who took statins and those who didn't. After an average of five years of follow-up among nearly 46,000 pairs of people who either used the cholesterol-lowering drugs or did not use them, 11.37 percent of participants taking a statin developed cancer, compared to 11.11 percent of those individuals not taking a statin. A common survival curve plotted for any cancer diagnosis up to 10 years also showed no difference between the two groups.

This provides additional reason to believe that statins are safe and very effective at reducing heart disease and stroke. The new findings are fairly conclusive, because the numbers are large and the outcomes are compelling. While they do not seem to increase cancer risk, statins do confer some risks such as liver damage and muscle problems. Also, due to the way the matching pairs were selected, the conclusions may not be generalisable to the overall population of adults taking statins and therefore further research is recommended. The same things that help reduce risk of heart disease also lower risk for many cancers. One must avoid smoking, eat a healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.

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