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Statins Do Not Protect Patients Against Risk of Colorectal Adenoma

April 19, 2010

• Benign adenomas in the colon increased slightly in participants using statins.
• Preliminary data suggesting statins may prevent colorectal cancer were not supported by this secondary analysis.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Statins did not protect patients against colorectal adenomas, which are benign precursors of colorectal cancer, according to results of a secondary analysis of the Adenoma Prevention with Celecoxib (APC) trial. In a population at high-risk for developing these lesions, results of this analysis suggested statin use may increase the risk of developing benign colorectal tumors.

Researchers presented results of this analysis at the American Association for Cancer Research 101st Annual Meeting 2010, held here, and full study results are published online in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the AACR.

“In this analysis, statins did not prevent the development of non-malignant colorectal tumors or colorectal adenomas,” said lead researcher Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass. “Given our results, we do not think that it is reasonable to further study statins for chemoprevention of colorectal cancer, as the chance that they have this activity is very small.”

Statins are commonly used to prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol levels. Previous studies have indicated that statins may also play a role in the prevention of colorectal cancer among patients who are at high risk for this cancer.

The goal of this study was to determine whether statin use was associated with the development of recurrent colorectal adenomas after removal by colonoscopy.

“We were surprised by our findings; pre-clinical studies indicated that statins would be beneficial, but they were not,” Bertagnolli said. “The observation that adenomas were more frequent in patients using statins needs to be confirmed and, because of this study design, should not raise concern. It would be highly detrimental if people at risk for cardiovascular disease were to stop taking statins based on these data.”

The overall APC trial was a randomized trial of 2,035 adenoma patients; 679 received placebo, 685 received 200 mg of celecoxib twice a day and 671 received 400 mg of celecoxib twice a day. Celecoxib, marketed by Pfizer, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is commonly used for patients with arthritis.

In the placebo group, patients who used statins at any time had no benefit in tumor growth over a five-year period compared with those patients who never used statins. Statins were used by 36 percent of the participants. Risk of developing recurrent benign colorectal adenomas increased with time in patients who were using statins.

As expected, based on their need for a statin, patients who were taking a statin experienced more serious cardiovascular side effects such as heart attack and stroke, according to the researchers.

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 31,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowship and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.

Media Contact:
Jeremy Moore
(267)646-0557
jeremy.moore@aacr.org
In Washington, D.C.
April 17-21:
(202) 249-4098

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