Statins show no effect on PSA levels

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

Ever since the FDA approved the first cholesterol-lowering statin in 1987, use of the drugs has steadily increased, with an estimated 13 million Americans taking them to ward off heart and vascular disease. Recently, statins have gained additional attention, thanks to studies showing the drugs might have anticancer properties.

But researchers have inconsistent answers to the question of whether statins might help control PSA following radiation therapy: one trial noted improved biochemical control with statins, while another found no impact. Michigan researchers recently completed their own study, looking back at 968 patients who were treated with radiation therapy, 23% of whom had been taking statins.

After adjusting the analyses for multiple factors, such as age, Gleason score, and total radiation dose, they concluded that statins had no significant effect on the likelihood that patients would experience biochemical failure, which was defined as either a PSA test result 2 ng/ml above the patient’s lowest PSA after radiation, or the start of hormone therapy.

Tracking participants for a longer period, however, could allow a difference between the two groups to emerge. The median follow-up time in the study was just 47 months.

SOURCE: Soto DE, Daignault S, Sandler HM, Ray ME. No Effect of Statins on Biochemical Outcomes after Radiotherapy for Localized Prostate Cancer. Urology 2009;73:158–62. PMID:18722651.

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