Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer and death in the United States. So previous research hinting that statins, which an estimated 20 million Americans take to improve their cholesterol levels, might cut the risk of colorectal cancer has generated high interest. However, a study released Monday yielded disappointing news.
Researchers studying a large group of postmenopausal women found that those who took statins did not have a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. The study included almost 160,000 women from the Women's Health Initiative. Two-thousand cases of colorectal cancer cases were identified among the women over a 10-year follow-up study. The type, class or potency of statins did not make a difference in reducing risk. Nor were there any links between statin use and the type and location of the tumor.
Other studies on statins and colorectal cancer are mixed, however. It's possible that people with particular gene variants may benefit from statins while others don't, said Dr. Michael S. Simon, a professor on oncology at Wayne State University and Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.
"The recent meta-analysis overall suggests an 8% reduction in risk," Simons said. "Future studies perhaps should be focused more on individuals at high risk for colorectal cancer.