Statins are a commonly prescribed medication used for the purpose of managing high levels of cholesterol in the blood. Recent research suggests that they may have another crucial health advantage.
Kevin Dalby, Austin cancer specialist, and professor at the College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas has been studying the mechanisms of cancer cell signaling to develop targeted therapeutics. As part of his duty to stay up-to-date on all cancer findings, Dr. Dalby recognizes that statins may be used to treat certain cancer types. Statins may do so by impeding the action of a protein called p53, a mutation of which is implicated in tumor growth. Kevin Dalby goes into further detail below.
Diving Deeper into Statins
Statins are a group of FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved drugs that include atorvastatin, lovastatin, simvastatin, pravastatin, pitavastatin, rosuvastatin, mevastatin, cerivastatin, and fluvastatin. This type of medication is typically utilized to help lower cholesterol reduce illness and mortality in patients with higher risks of cardiovascular disease. In the United States alone, about forty million adults are prescribed to and take a statin to lower their cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association.
How Cholesterol-Lowering Statins May Cure Cancer
Studies that have taken place over the past couple of years have shown that cholesterol-lowering statins could serve more than its initial purpose of helping prevent cardiovascular disease. Due to its capability of inhibiting/reducing cholesterol production, this type of drug has been found to have anti-cancer advantages.
Studies initially started with animals, but have continued to grow in evidence since. The animal studies sparked initial concern around the matter as statins spurred cancer growth in rodents. However, observational studies done through people did not reflect the higher cancer rates. Such studies discovered evidence that people who take statins have less chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. On top of that, patients on statins are experiencing longer lifespans after being diagnosed with cancers such as kidney, colorectal, breast, and lung compared to those in the same boat not taking statins.
Statins fall in line with research and findings from the academic studies that show what medicine can help fight cancer. When changed from one form to another, some main characteristics in cancer like the mevalonate pathway and cholesterol production give the advantage to statins fighting off cancer. Statins lower cholesterol production in cells by impeding an enzyme (HMGCR), which is vital for the synthesis of mevalonate or a precursor for cholesterol’s biosynthesis.
More detailed research has discovered that colon cancer patients prescribed to and actively taking statins like Lipitor and Zocor exemplified a twenty-nine percent lower risk of fatality from their cancer than those patients not taking or prescribed to Lipitor and Zocor. This acquired knowledge backed by evidence is good news, but still considered preliminary research findings for the one hundred and thirty-six thousand Americans that fall victim to colon or rectal cancer every year. Cancer specialists voice that there still needs to be further observational studies until such preliminary research findings are considered confirmed.
About Kevin Dalby
Dr. Kevin Dalby is a professor of chemical biology and medicinal chemistry in the College of Pharmacy, Department of Oncology at The University of Texas in Austin. He is studying the mechanisms of cancer cell signaling to develop targeted therapeutics. Dr. Dalby’s efforts were recognized by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and the National Institutes of Health, grant funds to support his research.
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