Statins could treat prostate cancer – new study

Prostate cancer: Dr Hilary outlines signs and symptoms

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One in eight men will develop prostate cancer. Fortunately, statins could help treat the deadly condition, according to new research. A first-of-its-kind trial showed that the small tablets could starve tumours.

If you have high cholesterol or suffer from cardiovascular problems, the chances that you’re taking statins are pretty high.

However, new research, published in the journal BJU International, suggests that the popular medication doesn’t only lower cholesterol.

Statins could also provide aid to thousands of people battling stubborn prostate cancer.

Looking at 12 patients, the researchers found that all but one saw a clear benefit from the cholesterol-busting medication.

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Lead author Professor Hing Leung said: “We could use these already-approved medicines very quickly to offer patients better options for treatment.”

Prior to the trial, none of the participants were taking the cholesterol-lowering medication.

During the research, all of the subjects were given a 40mg atorvastatin pill daily for six weeks.

The medication was dished out alongside traditional androgen deprivation therapy, which helps to lower androgen in the bloodstream. And prostate cancer needs this hormone to grow.

The trial found that 11 out of the 12 participants saw their PSA levels fall following the treatment.

In case you’re not aware, high PSA levels are considered an indicator of prostate cancer. However, they can also rise in people with inflamed and large prostate.

Doctor Hayley Luxton, senior research impact manager at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “We are pleased to have funded this study, which shows encouraging early signs that statins could help slow prostate cancer growth.

“Further research is now needed to understand the best time to add statins to prostate cancer treatment, and to test this approach in a much larger group of men.”

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Other charities have shared the findings are “encouraging” as the drugs are cheap and safe.

Statins are primarily used to stop the liver from producing “bad” cholesterol, also known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Over time, this type of cholesterol can build up and cause your arteries to harden and narrow, triggering heart disease — one of the world’s leading causes of death.

People are currently given statins if they have high cholesterol, heart disease or family history of cardiovascular problems.

Do statins cause side effects?

While statins are generally well-tolerated, they can still stir up some unwanted effects, just like any medication.

One of the “common” problems triggered by the medication is muscle pain, with the NHS and other health bodies listing this symptom as an official side effect.

However, a landmark study, published in the journal Lancet, has recently found that the drugs should only be blamed in less than 10 percent cases.

According to the NHS, the common side effects to be aware of include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling sick
  • Feeling unusually tired or physically weak
  • Digestive system problems (constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion or farting)
  • Muscle pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Low blood platelet count.

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