Using statins can significantly reduce colorectal cancer risk, especially for patients who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Statins are a group of drugs that reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) production in the liver, lowering blood cholesterol levels. LDL is the "bad" cholesterol that can increase the risk for a heart attack or stroke. More than 35 million Americans take statins, making them one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States.
Kevin N. Singh, M.D., from NYU Langone Medical Center, presented an analysis on statin use and colon cancer risk at ACG Virtual, the American College of Gastroenterology's annual scientific meeting.
Dr. Singh and a group of colleagues reviewed 52 studies, including randomized clinical trials, case-control studies and cohort studies that included more than 11 million patients. The analysis revealed statin use among the general population lowered colon cancer risk by 20 percent. Statin use among IBD patients decreased the colorectal cancer risk by 60 percent.
Research must continue in this subject, and Dr. Singh's analysis only prompts further studies. Previous research found aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help lower colorectal cancer risk, but they have side effects such as increased bleeding risk.
Statins could be a viable option for colon cancer prevention because most patients can tolerate statins and are generally considered safe. However, regardless of whether they have IBD, all patients should talk to their doctor to determine whether statins are appropriate for their health. Dr. Singh said the colon cancer risk reduction of statins could even be higher than previously reported, so he plans to conduct more research (American College of Gastroenterology).
The best way to prevent colon cancer is by scheduling a colonoscopy or a different colon cancer screening method. A colonoscopy offers the best protection against colon cancer because a doctor can remove a precancerous polyp before it develops into cancer. No other colon screening provides the same protective benefits.
When should you begin colon cancer screenings? Talk to your doctor. The American Cancer Society recommends all adults at average risk for colon cancer begin screening at age 45. If you have a family history of the disease, you may need to get screened earlier.
Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but most cases are preventable with routine colonoscopies. Click here to find a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist in your area and schedule your colon cancer screening.