Statins could cut the risk of prostate cancer returning in men who have already undergone surgery by nearly a third, research has found.
Experts from Duke University Medical Centre in Durham, North Carolina, found that men who had been taking statins prior to having their prostate glands removed saw their risk of relapse reduced by 30%, suggesting that higher doses of the cholesterol-busting drug could cut the likelihood of recurrence even more.
The team examined the records of 1,319 men who had their prostate glands removed, 236 of whom were taking statins at the time of their surgery.
Overall, taking statins reduced the risk of biochemical recurrence by 30%. For men taking a dose equivalent to 20 milligrams of simvastatin a day, recurrence risk was reduced by 43%, the study found.
Writing in the journal Cancer, study leader Dr Stephen Freedland said that while the findings build on the belief that statins have anti-cancer properties, the science behind why and how they do so is still a matter that requires further investigation.
“The findings add another layer of evidence suggesting that statins may have an important role in slowing the growth and progression of prostate cancer,” he said.
“Previous studies have shown that statins have anti-cancer properties, but it’s not entirely clear when it’s best to use them - or even how they work.”