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post : Statins, Fat, and the Prostate

Statins, Fat, and the Prostate

By Dr. Jerry Mixon December 7, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

A recent study of prostate cancer, funded by the federal government, linked high cholesterol levels with doubling the risk of developing an aggressive cancer that is more likely to result in death. The study, which involved over 6000 men, showed there was a clear correlation between a cholesterol level over 200 and a doubling in the incidence of high-grade malignancies of the prostate. As a result, some have leapt to the conclusion that placing men on statin drugs, which are a class of drugs that lower cholesterol levels, should lower the risk of prostate cancer (or at least lower the risk of high-grade aggressive prostate cancer).

I wish life was that straight forward, but the data on statin use and prostate cancer incidence is complex. There are studies indicating that long-term use of statin drugs may decrease the overall risk of prostate cancer to some modest degree. On the other hand, a large study, published in September of 2009 and done here at the Seattle Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, indicates that statin users had no overall effect on prostate cancer incidence. Yet it did find that obese men who used statin drugs actually increased their risk of prostate cancer by almost 50%.

We have known for decades that men with a high animal fat intake have an increased risk of prostate cancer. People with high animal fat intake also tend to have high cholesterol and have a higher risk of being obese. Since these are precisely the folks at highest risk of having high cholesterol, and since high cholesterol is widely treated with statin drugs, it follows that these people would also have a higher risk of prostate cancer. Sorting out which risk factors are most important is a difficult and confusing project.

The bottom line is that all the information leads us back to one central fact that is buttressed by the research: Fat causes cancer. If you eat less fat, exercise more, and keep your weight under control, you will lower your risk of virtually all cancers.

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