Commonly used Drugs may have Additional Benefits for Men with Prostate Cancer
A new study of more than 7,000 men suggests that those with localized prostate cancer (which means the disease hasn't spread beyond the prostate gland) who take cholesterol reducing statin drugs or anti-inflammatory agents live longer than men who don't use these medications.
Some of the well known statins include Zocor, Lipitor, Pravachol, Crestor, Lescol, and Mevacor. Commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and naproxen (Aleve).
Statins, Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Prostate Cancer
The study evaluated men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1990 and 2003. Nearly 65% underwent surgery to remove the prostate gland, while the remainder underwent radiation therapy. Both treatments are highly effective for treating localized prostate cancer.
After treatment, 1,824 men reported that they used statins. Approximately the same number of men took anti-inflammatory medications. The men were followed on the study for an average of three and a half years.
The results indicated that the men who took statins were 41-65% less likely to die during the course of the study than men who didn't. Similarly, the men who used anti-inflammatory drugs were 53-61% less likely to die than those who didn't. However, men who took either group of drugs within twelve months after prostate cancer treatment did not derive any life extending benefit.
In fact, the study found that men with prostate cancer who were treated with modern technique radiation therapy had a 10% greater chance of being cured of prostate cancer in the ten years after the diagnosis, compared to their counterparts who did not use these drugs.
Explaining the benefit
Statin drugs inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in the test tube. Also, evidence is accruing that prostate cancer may develop in lesions associated with chronic inflammation. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be able to interfere with this process, thereby protecting men from developing prostate cancer.
Although the results of this single study needs to confirmed with additional studies, the good news is that commonly used medications for medical problems other than prostate cancer seem to have an additional benefit for men with prostate cancer.
By Carol L. Kornmehl
Copyright 2008 by Carol L. Kornmehl. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be copied without express written permission by the author.
Dr. Kornmehl is a board certified radiation oncologist and author of the critically acclaimed consumer health book, “The Best News About Radiation Therapy” (M. Evans, 2004). She may be contacted via www.RTSupportdoc.com, her website.