Statins Linked to Lower Stomach Cancer Risk

Gastric cancer risk reduced by statins

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Researchers from Taiwan published a study showing that statin use substantially reduced risk of gastric cancer. Could smoked fish be the reason?

While gastric cancer is not very common in the United States, several countries including Japan and Taiwan have elevated risks of gastric cancer.

Some studies have concluded that dietary differences, particularly consumption of smoked fish, may be partly responsible.

"Ask your doctor about statins."

Researchers concluded that the risk for developing gastric cancer was lowered by 32 percent if any statins were used in previous years. The study was retrospective, analyzing the records of 1685 patients to determine how the use of statins in the years preceding diagnosis.

Data supported the conclusion that the risk for developing gastric cancer decreased even further when patients were on higher doses of statins.

While retrospective studies are inconclusive, the results are at least partially supported by several other studies showing that statins are responsible for a general decrease in inflammatory cellular pathways.

Statins, also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, were created and approved for lowering cholesterol. Initially approved by the FDA approval in 1987, statins have overcome several controversial issues regarding their rare but serious side effects.

Statins are now one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States, a trend that does not seem to go away anytime soon as increasing amounts of evidence documenting the ability to reduce cardiovascular complications in heart attack and stroke are published.

While additional research on the link between statins, inflammation, and cancer is underway, it is likely that time alone will prove the theory one way or another if gastric cancer suddenly becomes less common.

“Given the widespread use of statins, this magnitude of risk reduction would have a substantial public health impact,” the researchers concluded.

Data was taken from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database.

The study was published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology in the December 2011 edition.

This research was supported in part by a grant from the National Science Council, Executive Yuan, Taiwan. No other financial disclosures were made publicly available.

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Review Date: 
April 25, 2012
Last Updated:
April 27, 2012