Among high-risk prostate cancer patients - those with high PSA and Gleason scores of 8 or more - many will develop a difficult-to-treat disease. Preliminary research suggests that two commonly prescribed medications, cholesterol-lowering statins and the diabetes therapy metformin may have anticancer effects. However, it is unclear which of these two medications - commonly prescribed together -- contributes the most and whether they can impact high-risk prostate cancer. New research shows that statins, alone or with metformin, increase survival in men with high-risk prostate cancer.
"Both metformin and statins have been associated with longer life in prostate cancer patients, yet because they are commonly prescribed together, no study we know of has looked at these two medications separately," says senior author Grace Lu-Yao, PhD, associate director of Population Science at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center--Jefferson Health, one of only eight NCI-designated cancer centers nationwide with a prostate cancer program of excellence.
The study, published in Cancer Medicine on Feb 8th, looked at a number of statin therapies, and metformin, an anti-diabetic medication, in high-risk prostate cancer populations.
Using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER-18) database linked with Medicare files, Dr. Lu-Yao and colleagues looked at patients diagnosed with cancer from 2007 through to 2011. Based on 12,700 patients, the researchers observed that statins alone or in combination with metformin was significantly associated with reduced mortality from all causes.
Dr. Lu-Yao and colleagues saw the highest median survival of 3.9 months in men who took both metformin and statins, 3.6 with statins alone and 3.1 years with metformin alone. The median survival for those who did not use either drug was also 3.1 years.
With respect to prostate mortality, metformin plus statin was associated with a 36% reduction in risk of death followed by statins alone. Those taking metformin alone were relatively rare, and there was no significant association with all-cause mortality." Dr. Grace Lu-Yao, senior author Related Stories
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