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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Statins' Benefit Only To Heart

Statins are good for the heart, but the popular cholesterol-lowering drugs - including Lipitor, Zocor and Pravachol - do not appear to prevent cancer, pharmacists at the University of Connecticut report in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers at the UConn School of Pharmacy reviewed 26 heart disease studies involving more than 73,000 subjects to determine whether statins helped prevent cancer.

They found that no type of cancer was affected by statin use and that no type of statin reduced cancer risk, said C. Michael White, associate professor of pharmacy at UConn.

"If there was anything there, we would have seen it in these clinical trials," White said.

But some scientists argue that more investigation is needed. A few recent studies suggested statins' effects might help combat cancer.

One theory has been that statins reduce inflammation; another suggests that by stopping the formation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as "bad" cholesterol, statins set off a chain reaction that offers additional protective benefits against cancer.

The potential therapeutic value of statins was one of the hot topics of the 2005 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, said Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, director of the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UConn Health Center and president of the American Cancer Society.


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