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 24 January 2018

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News

Statins reduce the relative risk of colorectal cancer

This week's New England Journal of Medicine reports that the use of statins is associated with a 47% relative reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer after adjustment for other known risk factors.

News image

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Statins are inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase and effective lipid-lowering agents.

Statins inhibit the growth of colon-cancer cell lines, and secondary analyses of some, but not all, clinical trials suggest that they reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

5 year statin use is associated with reduced relative risk of colorectal cancer versus controls
New England Journal of Medicine

The Molecular Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer study is a population-based case–control study, which the researchers accessed for further analysis.

The study included patients who received a diagnosis of colorectal cancer in northern Israel between 1998 and 2004 and controls matched according to age, sex, clinic, and ethnic group.

Dr Gruber and colleagues used a structured interview to determine the use of statins in 1953 patients with colorectal cancer and 2015 controls.

The research team verified self-reported statin use by examining prescription records in a subgroup of patients for whom prescription records were available.

In analyses including the patients, the use of statins for at least 5 years was associated with a reduced relative risk of colorectal cancer versus the controls.

The team found that this association remained significant after adjustment for the use or nonuse of aspirin or other nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs.

Physical activity, and hypercholesterolemia, family history of colorectal cancer ethnic group, and level of vegetable consumption also did not change the association of reduced relative risk of colorectal cancer with statin use.

The research team noted that fibric-acid derivatives was not associated with a significantly reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

Self-reported statin use was confirmed for 276 of the 286 participants who reported using statins and whose records were available.

Dr Garber's team concludes, “The use of statins is associated with a 47% relative reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer after adjustment for other known risk factors.”

“Because the absolute risk reduction is likely low, further investigation of the overall benefits of statins in preventing colorectal cancer is warranted.”

NEJM 2005: 352(21): 2184-92
27 May 2005

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