Statins may protect against development of kidney cancer, according to researchers.


They retrospectively examined data from 483,733 veterans (mean age 61.2 years), of whom 1,446 (0.3%) had a primary diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Prior the diagnosis, 164,441 (34%) of study population were taking statins.

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Prior statin use was observed in 432 (29.9%) of the 1,446 RCC patients compared with 164,008 (34.01%) of the 482,287 subjects without RCC. After adjusting for age, gender, obesity, and smoking, statin use was associated with a 48% lower risk of the malignancy, the researchers reported in Urology (2008;71:118-122).


The investigators, led by Murali Ankem, MD, of the Overton Brooks Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Shreveport, La., observed the protective effect across different age groups and in men and women, independent of the presence of obesity and smoking.


Previous studies have suggested that statins have anticancer activity against renal cancer as well as other malignancies, including pancreatic, breast, bladder, and prostate cancer. One study, which was published in Clinical Cancer Research (2004;10:8648-8655),  demonstrated that statins suppress cell growth and inhibit RCC metastasis in mice. Other studies, however, found no protective effect.


For example, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2006;295;74-80), researchers who performed a meta-analysis of 6,662 cancers and 2,407 cancer deaths showed that no type of cancer was affected by statin use.