An editorial in today’s edition of Urotoday, “Exploring Causes for Declining Prostate Cancer Mortality Rates in the United States” (1/5/09), looks at possible explanations for the the reduction in deaths from prostate cancer in recent years (’93-’03).  The authors relied on information from a a study reported recently in the journal Urologic Oncology (Nov-Dec).

The researchers  found that the following correlated with decreased PC mortality in *white men*:

  • PSA screening; and
  • High cholesterol

 The widespread use of statins to treat high cholesterol appears to benefit men, especially those with advanced or fatal PC.

In black men, access to health care and insurance coverage were the only factors correlated with a decrease in PC deaths.

These findings lend credibility to those who favor prostate screening for all men over 50 (or in certain cases, younger).

Here are some excerpts from the story in Urotoday:

Editor’s Pick:  “BERKELEY, CA ( – A question that has never been clearly answered is, following the introduction of PSA screening in the US in 1989, why prostate cancer deaths increased between 1989 and 1993, then decreased from 1993 to 2003. . . .

“In the Nov-Dec issue of Urologic Oncology, Drs. Janet Colli and Christopher Amling compared declining prostate cancer mortality rates with levels of PSA screening, health insurance coverage, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

“The investigators studied men over age 50 included from 1979 to 2003 in the National Vital Statistic System database at the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. . . .

“Declining prostate cancer mortality rates for white males correlated with high cholesterol levels and PSA screening levels. No other independent variable for white males correlated with declining PCa mortality rates. . . . Among black males, declining prostate cancer mortality rates correlated with health insurance coverage. . . .

“The authors point out that while cholesterol is considered a risk factor for PCa, the extensive use of statins in this population is associated with a decreased risk in this population. This relationship has been especially suggested between statin use and advanced and fatal PCa. Health insurance coverage and access to health care was not a factor in white men, but appeared to be so in black men.”

Urol Oncol. 2008 Nov-Dec;26(6):627-33