Belfast Telegraph

Cholesterol medication 'may cut cancer risk by 24%'

Research: Dr Emma Allott
Research: Dr Emma Allott

By Gillian Halliday

Men who take medicine to lower their cholesterol level may have almost a 25% reduced risk of developing an acute form of prostrate cancer, research led by Queen's University has revealed.

Clinical studies of statins - which are often prescribed to cut cholesterol levels - have previously suggested the drugs could play a role in slowing down the growth of different types of cancers.

However, this latest research has discovered men who had taken statin medicines had a 24% lower risk of developing a more lethal type of prostate cancer - compared to men who were not.

The study, published yesterday in American Association journal, Clinical Cancer Research, was produced by Queen's University, Belfast, along with researchers from Trinity College, Dublin and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in the United States.

The research, which specifically examined ways statins might affect prostate cancer, also found there were no differences in the overall rates of prostate cancer among men who were prescribed statins.

Dr Emma Allott, from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology and the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's, stressed the findings are the first to observe the effects on statins on prostate cancer.

"By studying a large group of men who had been monitored for 24 years, we were able to see the link between statin use and the prevention of lethal prostate cancer.

"Although the findings are at an early stage, we were able to see that statin use may affect inflammation and immunity levels in the prostates of some men as well as having an effect on the characteristics of the tumour itself." The research involved Dr Allott working in collaboration with colleagues here and in the Republic, and analysing data from a study funded by the US National Cancer Institute.

Dr Robert O'Connor, head of research at the Irish Cancer Society, said the study's conclusions could prove to be effective in the treatment of prostate cancer.

"While we are not recommending that men start taking statins unless prescribed to do so, this study provides us with building blocks to further explore how statins could be used to combat prostate cancer in the future," he explained.

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