By Annette M. Boyle
CHAPEL HILL, NC – Physicians commonly recommend statins for veterans with high triglyceride levels. Now they may have another reason to encourage these men to take the cholesterol-lowering drugs: Statins appear to lower the risk of prostate cancer recurrence in some patients.
“We know that controlling lipid levels is important for cardiovascular disease prevention. Our findings suggest that it may also be important for preventing prostate cancer recurrence in patients with high triglyceride levels,” said Emma Allott, PhD, postdoctoral associate in the department of epidemiology and the Lineberger Comprehensive
Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC. “These patients are already indicated for statins to lower cholesterol. Now we’re seeing multiple benefits that should further encourage them to start therapy.”
Allott and her colleagues found that higher triglyceride levels were associated with increased risk of prostate cancer recurrence in men who had undergone radical prostatectomies, according a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers& Prevention.1
More than 12,000 veterans receiving care through the VA are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year.
“One of the interesting aspects of cancer diagnosis is that it encourages people to adopt new behaviors,” Allott told U.S. Medicine. “We have 12 million prostate cancer survivors in the U.S. now, and the majority will die of heart disease or other causes. Here is additional rationale that they should be doing something about cholesterol, whether that’s lifestyle interventions such as diet and exercise or statin therapy.”
The researchers did not find an association between increased risk of prostate cancer recurrence and total serum cholesterol and low- or high-density lipoproteins (LDL and HDL, respectively) in all men. Triglyceride levels above 150 mg/dl were associated with a 35% increased risk of recurrence, with each 10mg/dl associated with a 2% increase in risk.
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