Poor research conclusions from CRUK on statins and cancer

Poor research conclusions from CRUK on statins and cancer

Cancer Research UK and University College London have conducted a study (the Seckl study) on statins involving 846 patients at 91 hospitals across the UK. Having followed patients for two years, the scientists claimed that statins, which were thought to prevent lung cancer and to make chemotherapy work better increasing patient survival times, had no such benefits.

Indeed, Allan Hackshaw, Professor and Deputy Director of the British charity Cancer Research UK went on to summarise, “Our results match those of other randomised trials examining different types of cancer, and they have also shown no benefit to using statins in cancer treatment. Collectively, this evidence seems quite persuasive”. Hackshaw then went on to suggest that there was no need to conduct any more trials with statins and cancer.

Unfortunately, Professor Hackshaw doesn’t seem to know much about statins. The research focused on just one type of statin, Pravastatin, not ‘all’ statins. And this is important.

Statins are, to varying degrees, lipophilic – that means they tend to dissolve in fats. And this is important. Several studies have shown that prostate cancer, for example, tends to reoccur and survival time is shorter, if blood triglycerides are high.

And there are a number of good and clear studies using Simvastatin and Atorvastatin, which are the most lipophilic.  These are used with certain cancers and seem to have a positive effect on survival times.

What was more than a little odd was that the Cancer Research and UCL teams went out of their way to find only cancer patients taking Pravastatin which is very poorly lipophilic. It is also one of the least studied in the context of cancer. Is it a wise conclusion to then say all statin trials with cancer should now cease?

Go To: Repurposing old drugs for use against cancer

Secondly, the study focused on one type of cancer: non-small cell lung cancer. There are many drugs that fail to act on one cancer but act really well on others. Would using Tamoxifen on kidney cancer produce strong results? And if not, would it be a wise conclusion to recommend that Tamoxifen showed no benefit in cancer treatment?

Unfortunately, a number of science journals (like Science Daily) seem to have been sucked in to reproducing these dubious and unscientific conclusions: “Statins do not benefit cancer patients at all”.

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist and founder of CANCERactive said, "This is an appalling piece of research, with quite amateurish conclusions. The credibility of Cancer Research has been seriously damaged. The fact is that Simvastatin and Atorvastatin do affect fat levels, and benefit cancer patients; and these were very, very poor scientific conclusions from people who should know better. Lipophillic statins are the real deal. Not this ’chosen’ statin."

Go To: Metastases increases the higher your blood bad fat levels



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