Cholesterol drug may cut cancer risk

Oct. 22, 2012 at 4:45 PM
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LAS VEGAS, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Statins, a cholesterol lowering drug may lower the risk of esophageal cancer, especially in those with Barrett's esophagus, U.S. researchers say.

Study author Siddharth Singh, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, said squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma are two main types of esophageal cancer. Barrett's esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease, raises the risk of adenocarcinoma, the more common type of esophageal cancer.

Barrett's esophagus is a precancerous condition in which the lining of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach, is damaged by stomach acid, Singh said.

"Unfortunately, survival rates for this cancer are low, so prevention is critical," Singh said in a statement. "So these results are supporting and encouraging, but more research is needed before we recommend that patients at risk of esophageal cancer take statins."

The study combined data from 13 studies involving more than 1.1 million patients, of which 9,285 had esophageal cancer. The analysis found statins lowered cancer risk by nearly one-third.

The study also found patients taking a statin and aspirin reduced their risk of esophageal cancer by 72 percent.

The findings were presented at the American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting in Las Vegas.

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