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INTRODUCTION: Statin use has been examined as a potential chemopreventive strategy against colorectal cancer (CRC). Previous studies have not been able to investigate this topic with adequate follow-up time or disentangle the effects of statin use and total cholesterol level. We investigated prospectively this topic.
METHODS: Eligible participants (100,300 women and 47,991 men) in the Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study were followed for up to 24 years. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals.
RESULTS: We documented 2,924 incident CRC cases during follow-up. In fully adjusted analyses, longer duration of statin use was associated with higher risk of colon cancer (hazard ratios, the 95% confidence interval was 1.09, 0.95-1.25 for 1-5 years; 1.16, 0.99-1.36 for 6-10 years; 1.08, 0.81-1.44 for 11-15 years; 1.85, 1.30-2.61 for >15 years; vs never users, P = 0.004 for trend) rather than rectal cancer. The risk elevation was driven by proximal colon cancer (1.16, 0.98-1.38 for 1-5 years; 1.19, 0.98-1.45 for 6-10 years; 1.25, 0.89-1.74 for 11-15 years; 2.17, 1.46-3.24 for >15 years; vs never users, P = 0.001 for trend) rather than distal colon cancer. The results remained robust in analyses among participants with hypercholesterolemia or who never received screening. Total cholesterol level was not associated with CRC risk.
DISCUSSION: This study does not support benefit of statin use in CRC chemoprevention or any association between total cholesterol level and CRC risk. On the contrary, long-term statin use may be associated with increased colon cancer risk (driven by proximal colon cancer).
Edward L Giovannucci
Yin Zhang,Kana Wu,Andrew T Chan,Jeffrey A Meyerhardt,Edward L Giovannucci