Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Statin use may hide prostate cancer

My prostate cancer was discovered because of a spike in my PSA level that was noted during a routine annual doctor's visit. Others are first diagnosed for prostate cancer when their PSA level reaches a certain threshold.
In both cases, a biopsy usually follows.
What's a concern is that a report at Urology Today finds the use of statins lowers PSA levels, thereby giving inaccurate numbers that needed to give an accurate diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Statins are a class of drug used to lower cholesterol levels in people at risk for heart disease. Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor are among the brand names of these drugs.
In a retrospective study of 1,214 men who used statins, researchers found that as LDL (bad cholesterol) dropped so did PSA levels.
"PSA decline was linearly associated with a decline in LDL and for every 10% LDL
decline there was a PSA decline of 1.64%."

Often, a threshold PSA level triggers the need for a biopsy. The reseachers found that the drop in PSA in as many 39% of the cases would have resulted in no biopsy being performed.

As is so often the case, there's a lot of uncertainty regarding statins and prostate cancer. Obviously more study needs to be done.
For instance:
-- A report earlier this summer found that the use of statins for the long term could raise the risk of prostate cancer among obese men.
-- A report in January found that men who were taking statins to lower their cholesterol had a 10 percent greater chance of being cured of prostate cancer by radiation therapy 10 years after diagnosis

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