July 23, 2007
Low Cholesterol From Statins Slightly Boosts Cancer Risks?

I hear Joe Jackson singing:

Everything gives you cancer
Everything gives you cancer
Theres no cure, theres no answer
Everything gives you cancer

You want benefits without costs? Keep looking. Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs probably cause a small boost in the risk of cancer.

Millions of Americans take statins to lower their cholesterol, but how low should you go" Many scientific studies support the benefits of lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and achieving low LDL cholesterol levels is one of the most important steps in preventing heart disease. New research, however, provides evidence for an association between low LDL levels and cancer risk.

The authors of the study, published in the July 31, 2007, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), set out to understand how and why statins cause side effects, particularly damage to the liver and muscle cells. The study findings support taking multiple medications rather than high-dose statins to minimize those side effects. The researchers did not expect to find the increased cancer risk (one additional incident per 1,000 patients) from low LDL levels, and additional studies have already begun to investigate this potential risk further. A key component in future studies will be to confirm the risk and to identify whether the risk may be a side effect of statins or just low LDL.

“This analysis doesn’t implicate the statin in increasing the risk of cancer,” said lead author Richard H. Karas, M.D., F.A.C.C., professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. “The demonstrated benefits of statins in lowering the risk of heart disease remain clear; however, certain aspects of lowering LDL with statins remain controversial and merit further research.”

The researchers found one additional incident of cancer per 1,000 patients with low LDL levels when compared to patients with higher LDL levels. In their evaluation of randomized controlled statin trials published before November 2005, the researchers looked at 13 treatment arms consisting of 41,173 patients.

Do the statins directly cause damage to cells that leads to cancer? Or does the lowering of cholesterol somehow remove some brakes on cancer cell growth?

Keep in mind that statins lower risk of death from heart disease more than they increase the risk from cancer. Plus, the statin simvastatin appears to lower the risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

If you want to lower your cholesterol without taking statins then try the ape diet.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 July 23 11:46 PM  Aging Treatment Studies

rsilvetz said at July 24, 2007 8:41 AM:

Repeat after me: Peroxidized lipids are selectively toxic to cancer cells. Peroxidized lipids are selectively toxic to cancer cells. Peroxidized lipids are selectively toxic to cancer cells.

This is one of the reasons why excersize is good for you. You make reactive oxygen species - ROS. ROS peroxidizes lipids. Peroxidized lipid kills cancer cell.

At my previous research locale we wondered if statins will slightly up cancer risk as a side-effect of both mass action (less lipids) and the statin changing the inflammatory/ROS loads.

We thought the increase risk would barely be detectable.

Why? Because the person that benefits the most from statins is overwhelmingly, in terms of edge-odds, going to die of heart disease. He is, more or less, locked into the cardiovascular disease attractor. The guy who is locked into the "missing fever" or cancer attractor flavor of his immune system, is more or less, overwhelmingly, in terms of edge-odds going to get cancer and the statin's impact on that ratio is negligible.

The article even supports this because the patient base is totally skewed to the cardiovascular disease and it took 13 treatment arms with 41K patients to see an impact.

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