Statins Do Not Increase Breast Cancer Risk

American Cancer Society
Monday, 26 April 2004

A popular class of cholesterol lowering drugs called "statins" does not increase the risk of breast cancer. A new study to be published April 26, 2004 in the online edition of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, shows that long-term use of statins may actually reduce risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. The results of the study will be available via Wiley InterScience, and will appear in the June 1, 2004 print issue.

Since their approval by the FDA in 1987, statins have demonstrated tremendous efficacy in lowering cholesterol and reducing morbidity of heart disease. But early rodent experiments and clinical trial reports suggested statins might increase the risk of breast cancer. Further studies continue to offer conflicting data on the risk of cancer, in large part due to the limited range of statin exposure duration and inadequate sample size.

Conversely, more recent laboratory data and population-based studies suggest that statins may actually reduce cancer risk. In light of this question regarding the safety of this increasingly important class of drugs, a team of researchers led by Dr. Denise M. Boudreau of the Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, WA conducted a case-control study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to investigate associations between breast cancer and statin use. The researchers analyzed data from 975 postmenopausal women with breast cancer and 1007 women without the disease.

The authors found that among women currently using statins, there was no increased risk of breast cancer (odds ratio 1.0). Among long-term users (> 5 years), the risk of breast cancer actually decreased (odds ratio 0.7).

The authors conclude, "Our results both provide reassurance on the safety of statin use among older women, and support the emerging evidence that statins may have a chemoprotective action on breast cancer risk."

Article: "The Association between 3-Hydroxy-3-Methylglutaryl Conenzyme A Inhibitor Use and Breast Carcinoma Risk among Postmenopausal Women: A Case-Control Study," Denise M. Boudreau, Jacqueline S. Gardner, Kathleen E. Malone, Susan R. Heckbert, David K. Blough, Janet R. Daling, CANCER; Published Online: April 26, 2004 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.20271); Print Issue Date: June 1, 2004

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