Statins are the backbone of lipid-lowering therapy and are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the elderly population in Sweden today. Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women, after prostate and breast cancer, respectively, with a median age of 72 years at diagnosis. Statins induce mitochondrial damage leading to accumulation of reactive oxygen species in the cell. Reactive oxygen species can cause mutations in mitochondrial as well as nuclear DNA leading to the development of cancer. Our hypothesis was that statins increase the risk for colorectal cancer.
A case study was performed on consecutive cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed at Norrlands University Hospital (NUS) in Umeå between 2012 and 2015 (n?=?325). Patients diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type II (DM II n?=?65) were excluded in the primary endpoint analysis (occurrence of colorectal cancer). As control, three databases were used to create an age-matched population in order to calculate the proportion of inhabitants using statins in the county of Västerbotten, Sweden. A secondary endpoint was cancer-specific survival among our study group of colorectal cancer patients, including those with DM II, investigating whether there was a difference if the patient was a 'recent' statin user or not at the time of diagnosis.
Statin use at the time of colorectal cancer diagnosis in the study group was 23.8%. The corresponding figure in an age-matched population in Västerbotten was 24.6%. Using a one-proportional one-sided z test, there was no significant difference between these (23.8%, 95% CI 18.6-29.0%, p?=?0.601). When comparing groups 20-64 years of age, the difference was greater with recent statin use in 17.8% in the study population and 11.9% in Västerbotten (17.8%, 95% CI 9.0-26.6%, p?=?0.059). When considering cancer-specific survival, no significant difference in survival was seen when comparing 'former/never' statin users as reference category with 'recent' users diagnosed with colorectal cancer (HR 1.39, 95% CI 0.89-2.16).
No significant increase in risk for developing colorectal cancer among patients (type II diabetics excluded) medicated with statins was found. We found no correlation between 'recent' statin use at the time of diagnosis and cancer-specific survival.
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