Several studies have been conducted to examine the connection between statins and cancer. It was once believed that the drugs increased the risk of cancer. While this has now been mostly disproved, it is thought there are still some types of cancer which may develop due to use of the drugs. There are other industry professionals who believe that statins can help to prevent cancer.
In the past, some researchers concluded that the primary link between statins and cancer development is that the drug lowers cholesterol too much. The body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to function properly, and it was thought that low levels were somehow connected to the growth of cancer cells. There have now been several studies which appear to prove that the development of cancer was nearly equal among groups that did and did not use the drug.
There also have been several studies to examine the connection between statins and cancer prevention. Some evidence has been gathered which indicates that the drug may help to prevent certain cancers, such as cancers of the breasts, skin, and colon. Due to the low incidence of side effects from statins, it is believed that it could be a lower risk cancer prevention drug than current choices such as tamoxifen.
Still more studies appear to have determined that statins are neither helpful in the prevention of cancer nor responsible for the growth of tumors. Many of the researchers conducting these studies reported findings for relatively short periods of time. While significant results can be found in as brief a period as five years, many in the medical community continue to withhold judgment as research continues in this area.
One of the primary reasons there have been studies focused on the connection between statins and cancer development is that there have been some discoveries about the way the drug works on a molecular level. It is believed to fight against the development and growth of tumors by blocking a specific enzyme. The drug may also reduce levels of chemicals that lead to the growth of cancer cells.
Statins have been traditionally used to lower bad cholesterol and increase levels of good cholesterol. They are often used to prevent heart disease which can lead to problems such as angina or a heart attack. This medication works by slowing the production of cholesterol by the liver. The drugs tend to be well tolerated by most patients. Rare side effects include liver toxicity and muscle pain.