I have returned from Michigan and again have the computer access and the time to continue sharing items relevant to our struggle.

Investigators at the Duke University Prostate Center have indicated that cholesterol-lowering drugs, statins, may reduce inflammation in prostate tumors, which might hinder prostate cancer growth.

“Previous studies have shown that men taking statins seem to have a lower incidence of advanced prostate cancer, but the mechanisms by which statins might be affecting the prostate remained largely unknown,” said Lionel Bañez, M.D., a researcher in the Duke Prostate Center and lead investigator on this study. “We looked at tumor samples and found that men who were on statins had a 72 percent reduction in risk for tumor inflammation, and we believe this might play a role in the connection between prostate cancer and statin use.”

These findings were presented at the American Urological Association’s (AUA) annual meeting on April 26, 2009. The United States Department of Defense (DOD) and the American Urological Association Foundation funded the study, so go back to my prior posts about the value of the DOD programs and why we need to contact our government representatives about increasing funding for the DOD Prostate Cancer Program.

The researchers looked at pathological information from the tumors of 254 men who underwent radical prostatectomy as a primary treatment for prostate cancer at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center between 1993 and 2004. The removed prostate tissue was graded by a pathologist for inflammation on a scale of 0 to 2: 0 for no inflammation, 1 for mild inflammation (less than 10 percent of the tumor) and 2 for marked inflammation (greater than 10 percent of the tumor).

“This finding provides a potential mechanism of action for statins’ effects on prostate cancer biology,” Bañez said.

Other Duke Prostate Center research has found that inflammation in tumors is associated with recurrent prostate cancer, so these two findings, taken together, provide more impetus for considering the use of statins to possibly control or prevent prostate cancer, Bañez said.

“We’re not there yet, though,” said Stephen Freedland, M.D., a urologist at Duke and senior investigator on this study. “Though very promising, more work has to be done before we recommend that men go out and start taking statins as a path toward better prostate health.”

Despite this comment that we are not yet there, it can not hurt to speak with your doctor about the possibility of taking statins, especially if you are already struggling with cholesterol problems.

I also wish to point out that this research was funded with a grant from the DOD. I have written about the importance of this program and the great need to shake up our members of congress to increase the funding for prostate cancer research in the DOD. The DOD Prostate Cancer Research Programs have a significant history of providing great insights and very practical results for us.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW