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Cholesterol Drugs May Extend Survival for Prostate Cancer Patients

Cholesterol-lowering statins may help high-risk men curb prostate cancer. This is according to new research. High-risk patients are men with high levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in their blood and a Gleason score above 8. Gleason scores are use to gauge the prognosis of prostate cancer. Those with high Gleason scores are likely to develop cancers that are difficult to treat.

Previous research had found that statins and metformin (a diabetes drug) have anti-cancer properties. It hasn’t been clear, though, which of the drugs has the highest cancer-fighting potential or if both can help to lower the risk for prostate cancer.

Although they could not prove the cause and effect, the study found that statins are associated with increased prostate cancer survival, whether taken alone or with metformin. Those who took both drugs had a higher median survival of 3.9 years that those who took the statins alone (3.6 years) or those who dint take any of them (3.1 years).

Statins and metformin are often prescribed together, and that is probably why, together, they can prolong the life of prostate cancer patients. They have also shown a 36% reduction in the risk of prostate cancer deaths.

The study also discovered that men who took rosuvastatin, atorvastatin, or pravastatin had more prolonged survival than those who took lovastatin or those who didn’t take any of them.

Since prostate cancer thrives on testosterone, patients are often given treatment that reduces the levels of androgens. The new study observed that among men who received such therapies, those who took atorvastatin had longer median time to the progression of prostate cancer than those who never took the statin.

The reason for these effects with atorvastatin is not clear. But some researchers believe that testosterone could be the key since it promotes high levels of androgens that encourage prostate cancer growth. Statins help to slow this process.

Based on this evidence, the team will initiate a clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of statins and their combination with metformin in extending prostate cancer survival in patients.

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