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Cancer prevention was a key focus at this week's American Association for Cancer Research conference in California, writes Cato Pedder

Statins may cut men's risk of dying from prostate cancer by more than half, a major new prospective study concludes.

The US researchers said the results had 'great translational potential', although experts insisted more studies were needed.

Researchers followed 34,400 men over 10 years and found those on lipid-lowering drugs were 46 per cent less likely than non-users to develop advanced prostate cancer.

Their risk of developing metastatic prostate cancer or dying from the disease was reduced by 66 per cent.

Study leader Professor Elizabeth Platz, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said the results were 'very interesting' but needed confirmation.

'If the conclusions continue to hold up over time, there is great translational potential for preventing invasive and metastatic prostate cancer,' she said.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Anaheim, California, found the risk of prostate cancer fell the longer lipid-lowering drugs were taken. Some 91 per cent of the drugs were statins.

The study found that taking the drugs had no influence on the incidence of prostate cancer confined within the organ ­ a diagnosis more susceptible to PSA testing.

Professor John Toy, medical director of Cancer Research UK, said the study was the first to show the potential protective benefits of statins in prostate cancer and strongly suggested there was good reason to set up more studies.

But he warned: 'We wouldn't want people to rush off and start swallowing statins without reason because there can be serious side-effects.'

Professor Platz said it was not yet clear whether the benefits of statins were due to cholesterol lowering, their anti-inflammatory activity or effects on post-translational modification of proteins.

During the study more than 2,000 men developed prostate cancer, and 206 metastatic or fatal disease.

Calcium offers polyps protection

Long-term use of calcium supplements protects patients against colon cancer polyps for years, a new study finds.

Researchers at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire found patients on calcium supplements had a 36 per cent reduction in polyp formation in the five years after the end of the trial, compared with those on placebo.

Processed meat raises cancer risk

Heavy consumption of processed meats may be associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

A study of 190,545 people by the Cancer Research Center, University of Hawaii, found high consumers were 67 per cent more likely than low consumers to develop the disease.

A diet rich in pork and red meat also increased pancreatic cancer risk by half but researchers found no link between overall intake of fat, saturated fat or cholesterol.

NSAIDs give oral cancer protection

NSAIDs offer protection against oral cancer, particularly in light to moderate current smokers, researchers suggest.

The Norwegian study of 454 people with oral cancer and 454 matched controls found NSAID use cut the risk of cancer by two-thirds, with the strongest effect in mild smokers.

Paracetamol had no effect on the risk of oral cancer.

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