Statin Therapy Not Associated with Incident Cancer

But meta-analysis confirms inverse association between cancer and low on-treatment low-density lipoprotein cholesterol

THURSDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Although there is an inverse association between low levels of on-treatment low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and incident cancer, it is not driven by statin therapy, but the issue needs further study with a longer duration of follow-up, according to a report published online Aug. 20 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Alawi A. Alsheikh-Ali, M.D., of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials that included 19 statin and 14 control arms, 437,017 person-years of cumulative follow-up, and documentation of 5,752 incident cancers.

The researchers confirmed their previously reported finding of an inverse association between on-treatment LDL-C and incident cancer, with an excess of 2.2 cancers per 1,000 person-years for every 10 mg/dL decrement in on-treatment LDL-C. But their analysis showed that statins had no effect on cancer risk across all levels of on-treatment LDL-C.

"The central question for the clinician is whether a low LDL carries with it any intrinsic danger of cancer or other serious consequences (leaving aside for the moment possible side effects of the therapeutic intervention). Almost certainly not," states the author of an accompanying editorial. "When the initial report by Alsheikh-Ali et al. was published, we accompanied it by an editorial titled 'Low- Density Lipoprotein Reduction in Cancer: Not Definitive But Provocative'. We highlighted the wisdom of present guidelines that emphasize a link between baseline cardiovascular risk and LDL-C goals and cautioned that the analysis needed to be viewed as hypothesis generating. Similarly, while reassured by their present analysis, we still believe that further study is mandated," state the authors of a second editorial.

Several of the study authors have received past financial support from pharmaceutical companies.

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