Can statins really increase cancer survival?

Can statins really increase cancer survival?

In research on statins and cancer, there are very mixed results with some studies suggesting they exert multiple anticancer benefits, including decreased tumour growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis; but others indicating they can make matters worse. One problem is that much of the research supporting statins with cancer relies on in vitro cell studies; much of the criticism comes from real life epidemiology studies. For us, at CANCERactive, the jury is definitely out.

  1. Statins reduce serum cholesterol and there are a good number of studies showing that people with higher blood fat levels, especially saturated fat and LDL levels, develop more metastases and survive least. Lipophyllic statins such as atorvastatin can reduce bad fat levels and seem capable of reducing metastases.

Go to: Saturated fat and cancer risk

  1. Cholesterol is a major part of cell membrane structure and mevalonate produced in membrane synthesis is a precursor of dolichol which stimulates DNA synthesis and several cancer proteins. Mevalonate is also a precursor to GPP and FPP which regulate the ras and rho genes, which can cause cells to grow wildly. Ras and Rho are involved in many cancers and statins like lovastatin and cerivastatin have been shown to block these genes (1)
  2. Statins also seem to increase apoptosis (cancer cell death) in cell lines from brain tumours, mesothelioma and cervical cancer.
  3. Finally, there is mixed research on angiogenesis. Some studies suggest statins reduce this; others suggest promotion of blood supplies in a review of statins and cancer in the Oncologist (2).
  4. Indeed, there are strong arguments that statins can actually increase cancer risk due to modifying the immune response(3) and increasing the production of liver enzymes. And there is research showing an increased risk of cancer in the elderly when taking atorvastatin (4), and in people with a history of breast and prostate cancer(5).
  5. Cancer patients reading this might prefer to look at the bioactive compound lycopene from tomatoes. There is research showing it can lower cholesterol as well as, or even better than statins, and research showing it reduces fat levels and risk of prostate cancer, aggressive prostate cancer and fatal prostate cancer, without side-effects.

Go to: Is Lycopene better than statins?

References

  1. Soma MR, Corsini A, Paoletti R. Cholesterol and mevalonic acid modulation in cell metabolism and multiplication. Toxicol Lett 1992;64–65: Spec No1–15.
  2. http://theoncologist.alphamedpress.org/content/11/3/306.full#ref-48
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2365486/
  4. Ann Intern Med. 2007 Jul 3;147(1):1-9.
  5. N Engl J Med. 2007 Oct 11;357(15):1477-86.
2019 Research
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