Statin drugs are commonly used to help lower cholesterol in patients for whom dietary changes are not sufficient. These drugs are the most commonly prescribed drug category in the United States. However, there has been some concern among doctors because questions had arisen about a link between long-term statin use and some types of cancer.
Now research shows that this fear is unfounded. In an 11-year study, the Heart Protection Study Collaborative Group not only confirmed that statins are effective at lowering heart disease, it showed that the drugs don’t increase the risk or incidence of cancer or pre-cancerous conditions.
In fact, there’s some evidence that statins can fight cancer. Researchers at Columbia University have seen signs that statin drugs could help fight breast cancer in some patients. These results are preliminary, as are the results of a study last year that suggested statins can lower the prostate cancer relapse rate by 30 percent. According to another study, colon cancer incidence drops 12 percent in patients taking statins.
Statin drugs are associated with muscle pain in a small number of patients. This is more frequent and more severe at higher doses. If you have muscle pains on statin therapy, your doctor may be able to help create a strategy to alleviate this by changing the dosage schedule or prescribing a different medication within or outside the statin family.