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"Statins also cut cancer risk, U.S. study says"

Globe and Mail

Source: Globe and Mail

Published: 09 Jan 2022

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (2 stars)

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

CHICAGO - Statins - those hard-working, cholesterol-fighting drugs - may also cut the risk of developing cancer by as much as 25 per cent, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.
Veterans taking statin drugs had a 9.4-per-cent cancer incidence, compared with 13.2 per cent for non-statin users, the researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
"Our findings support the hypothesis that statins may reduce the risk of cancer, in particular lung and colorectal cancers," said Dr. Wildon Farwell of the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, who led the study....

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how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 4 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Not Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Not Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not 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 story provides both relative (25%) and absolute (9.4% vs. 13.2%) numbers but the lack of any information related to the adverse effects and side effects of statins (which can be significant for some patients) leads to an unbalanced impression of the value of these drugs. There are severe limitations to a retrospective cohort study and the appropriate caveats should have been listed, as well as telling the reader how these findings compare to randomized controlled trials that are of much higher quality and reliability. Not knowing the potential conflicts of interests of the researchers also is a strong drawback to this story.
The story makes two statements which were totally unsupported:
1) the higher the statin dose, the lower the incidence of cancer
2) statins significantly cut the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Both of these need scientific support if the reader is to accept them. It would be fairest to say both of these statements are controversial.

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