Statins are drugs commonly used to treat high cholesterol levels. In an interesting paper in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Drs. Wu and colleagues report that pancreatic cancer patients who take a statin “have a lower mortality risk” than pancreatic cancer patients who do not. They studied over 2,000 patients with pancreatic cancer in the Kaiser Permanente health system and found that any statin use (statin use before or after diagnosis) and statin use at baseline (before the patients were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer) were both associated with decreased mortality. In particular, this effect was seen with two particular statin drugs- simvastatin and torvastatin. Interestingly, even though statin drugs effect cholesterol levels, the authors did not find a relationship between cholesterol levels and survival. From these results, the authors conclude that “statins improve survival through a lipid-independent mechanism.” While the findings from other studies are mixed, these results add to a growing body of evidence that statins may benefit patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Influence of Statins and Cholesterol on Mortality Among Patients With Pancreatic Cancer
BZ Huang, JI Chang, E Li, AH Xiang, BU Wu – Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2017