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"Heart-helping statins don't cut cancer risk, clinical analysis finds"

Globe and Mail

Source: Globe and Mail

Published: 04 Jan 2022

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (3 stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

The hope that popular heart drugs might also reduce the risk of cancer seems to have been dashed.

A new analysis has found that statins, a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs that includes Lipitor and Zocor, do not lower the risk of developing cancer or of dying of cancer.

The study, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was a meta-analysis, a compilation and analysis of 26 clinical trials that involved more than 73,000 patients in total....

The original article can found in the Media Doctor archives.

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 5 of 9
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Not Applicable
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This is an interesting report of the possible role of statins to decrease the risk of cancer, yet needs more details on quantification of its benefits, harms and relative cost. Also it does not mention the possibility that statins may increase the incidence of some kinds of cancer in humans, as they do in rodents, although longer follow up is needed to obtain more supportive data.

This story correctly mentions the lack of evidence for cancer prevention due to the quality of research studies to date. The meta analysis provides a higher level of evidence and thus is more credible then smaller studies or studies in animals.

However the statement that "People who have had heart attacks can sharply reduce their risk of having more by taking statins" needs to be quantified. In fact the best meta analyses of those who are using statins as secondary prevention would show that the overall benefit is around 3%, which is hardly a "sharp" reduction

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