Health & Wellbeing

Statin use linked with increased survival from aggressive breast cancer

Statin use linked with increas...
New research has detected the greatest rates of survival in patients diagnosed with early-stage triple negative breast cancer are for those taking statins
New research has detected the greatest rates of survival in patients diagnosed with early-stage triple negative breast cancer are for those taking statins
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New research has detected the greatest rates of survival in patients diagnosed with early-stage triple negative breast cancer are for those taking statins
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New research has detected the greatest rates of survival in patients diagnosed with early-stage triple negative breast cancer are for those taking statins

A new study is offering the most detailed investigation to date into the relationship between breast cancer survival and statins – common cholesterol-lowering drugs. The retrospective study saw a 58 percent greater survival rate in breast cancer patients taking statins.

"There is already a body of literature on statins and breast cancer and the results have been inconsistent," says Kevin Nead, lead researcher from the University of Texas. "Previous research has looked at breast cancer as only one disease, but we know there are many subtypes of breast cancer and we wanted to focus our research on this particularly aggressive form of breast cancer that has limited effective treatment options."

There are three receptors commonly found in many breast cancers which present helpful targets for drugs to home in on. Around 15 percent of breast cancers, however, lack any of these common receptor targets. These are known as triple-negative breast cancers, and they are harder to treat than other types.

The new research looked at data from 23,192 women with breast cancer. The focus was on incidental statin use, which was defined as statin use that began in the year following the initial breast cancer diagnosis.

The results showed those incidental statin users were 58 percent more likely to survive their breast cancer with a median follow-up period of around three years. The association between survival and statins was strongest in women with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer taking a high dose of statins. The study also found increased overall survival rates in patients specifically taking lipophilic statins.

Exactly how statins could be increasing survival rates in breast cancer patients is still unclear. A study from the American Heart Association published earlier this year suggested statin use may decrease heart muscle damage caused during chemotherapy, which could increase overall survival rates in the years following breast cancer recovery.

But it is also plausible statins may also be acting directly on cancer cells in some way. Research last year from Johns Hopkins Medicine found statins can directly induce cell death in cancers with a particular gene mutation. Importantly, this research was only conducted in lab cultures of engineered cells so there is still not good evidence of statins directly interacting with cancer cells in human patients.

Nead says it is time to conduct specific prospective research on the potential role of statins in breast cancer treatment, particularly in the context of triple-negative breast cancer.

"We know that statins decrease breast cancer cell division and increase cell death," says Nead. "Our study shows that there is an association between statins and improved outcomes in TNBC, and it is time to pursue this idea further in a prospective trial."

The new study was published in the journal Cancer.

Source: University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

5 comments
5 comments
jerryd
Statins also causes many problems. Lipitor gave me fibromyalgia and made me bed ridden after 4 months then went away in 3 wks when stopped. Zocor gave me deep depression again after 4 months and stopped after stop taking the drug.
And I've found a lot more have reactions to statins than they admit as 50% stopped taking statins from side effects..
Adrian Akau
This article is misleading in that it does not go into the adverse side effects of statins. They include interference with coenzyme production which is necessary for the heart and also permanent nerve damage.
The Doubter
The side effects of statins are well known. The study is not recommending statins as a remedy for breast cancer, but is focussing on an empirical relationship with significant improvement in survival in TNBC - a particularly insidious variety of breast cancers.
Gregg Eshelman
My father had bad reactions to all the statins. The least of which were constipation and stinky farts. He nearly lost all use of his right arm from them and his leg strength was also less. Look up statin myopathy. So far I'm allergic to every medication my father was, and he was allergic to every med his mother was, so I'm steering clear of statins.

My mother's sister got intestinal cancer from Lipitor. It came really close to killing her. She came out missing a foot of intestine and it was real touch and go because the tumor had surrounded her descending aorta. If it hadn't caused an intestinal blockage it likely would've progressed to invading the aorta wall and that would've been the end. She went through chemo and still gets periodic checks, no sign of it coming back after many years.

For the people that don't have any problems with statins, they're great, but when a person has issues with one of them I'd say it's best to quit there and not tempt making things worse.
Justin Time
@Greg Eshelmam (or anyone else that would like to answer) about how long does it take for negative side effects to show up from taking statins. Thnx.