Statins, Prostate Cancer Fighter?

Statin use shown to lower prostate growth rate

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

(RxWiki News) A team from Duke University found that prostate growth is slightly slower in men prescribed statin drugs for high cholesterol.

While the doctors admitted they're not sure what exactly is going on, there have been a few other studies suggesting that statins have an effect on lowering inflammation.

"Ask your doctor about statins."

In a presentation, at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association, Roberto Muller, MD described an interesting development that was discovered during his clinical trial on testing Avodart (dutasteride). Dr. Muller couldn't help but notice that the 1,032 men in the 6,000-man trial taking a daily statin had smaller prostates than the study team predicted for their age.

During analysis of the trial data, his team discovered that the patients in the trial who had also been taking statins during those two years had a four percent lower rate of prostate growth than the other men in the trial, an anomaly which had thrown off the Avodart evaluation.

The difference was not only in actual prostate size, but was also seen in the results of the blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA).

According to Dr. Muller's analysis, this effect seemed to be limited to a two year period, with no changes beyond that timeframe.

The size of the prostate can be roughly estimated by the level of prostate-specific antigen in the blood, but there are a lot of problems with that, and quite a few things can raise the PSA level, including inflammation.

So a high PSA level doesn't necessarily mean prostate cancer, and low PSA doesn't rule out prostate cancer.

That's why the official recommendation by The United States Preventive Services Task Force in May stated that PSA level should not be used to screen men for possible prostate cancer.

A previous study by Dr. Muller also found that the PSA level could be lowered by four percent when patients were given statins, which closely matches his findings here of a four percent reduction in the rate of prostate growth.

According to the study data, the effect of statins on prostate growth seems to only work for two years, after that the rate of prostate growth returned to normal.

The slow growth of the prostate due to a lifetime of testosterone exposure causes difficulty urinating in most men of advanced years due to its location, wrapped around the body's urinary passage, the urethra.

Dr. Muller said that the effect was slight, but with further study, the use of statins or a similar compound could be potentially useful in controlling both age-related benign prostate growth, or even prostate cancer.

"Prostate enlargement was once considered an inexorable consequence of aging and genetics, but there is growing awareness that prostate growth can be influenced by modifiable risk factors," Dr. Muller said.

"In this context, the role of blood cholesterol levels and cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins warrants further study."

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association, and findings should be considered preliminary until subsequent publication of the data in a peer-reviewed journal.

The study was funded by GlaxoSmithKline, Avodart's manufacturer.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 30, 2012
Last Updated:
July 6, 2012