The Link Between Statins and Colorectal Cancer

Statin use, colorectal cancer link may not be as simple as it appears

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Anyssa Garza, PharmD

(RxWiki News) In a new study, researchers took a closer look at the relationship between statins, cholesterol and colorectal cancer.

Statins, which are used to treat high cholesterol, have been tied in past research to a lowered colorectal cancer risk, but many have raised concerns that the relationship between these factors might not be cause and effect.

And that's the conclusion of this new University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine study, which looked at 22,163 patients with colorectal cancer and 86,538 patients without.

These researchers were able to confirm past findings that patients taking statins were less likely than those not taking statins to develop colorectal cancer. But patients who started taking statins but quit did not see a higher risk of colorectal cancer than those who continued taking statins.

This, the researchers said, could suggest that cholesterol levels — not statins — could be the real predictor of colorectal cancer risk.

"Together, these data demonstrate a complex association between statins, cholesterol, and colorectal cancer, suggesting that unexplained cholesterol lowering in statin users or nonusers may be a marker of undiagnosed colorectal cancer," these researchers wrote.

In the end, it's best to talk to your doctor about your cholesterol and the effects of your prescription medications.

This study was published recently in PLOS Medicine.

A National Institutes of Health grant funded this research. Study authors disclosed various ties to pharmaceutical companies and other organizations.

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Review Date: 
April 28, 2016
Last Updated:
May 2, 2016