Karas and others reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, July 07, of the increased cancer risk associated with the use of high dose statins. The study findings support taking multiple medications rather than high-dose statins to minimize this tendency for cancers of different kinds.
This research team observed higher rates of newly diagnosed cancer among patients with lower achieved LDL levels. In addition, the new cancers were not of any specific type or location. This observation fits with predictions made years ago by those familiar with the mechanisms of action of the various statin drugs. Regardless of the stated focus of these authors on LDL cholesterol reduction, it is the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) inhibition action of statins that mediate increased cancer risk. NF-kB is a transcriptase mediating much of the action of our immune system.
The resulting inhibition of vascular inflammation does improve atherosclerosis but to inhibit this substance is also to impair our immuno-resistance. Whether attacked by alien bacteria, viruses or mutated cancer cells our immune system has evolved this mechanism for early identification and destruction of such foreign elements. All of this is dependent upon NF-kB. This is the basis of the concerns about cancer risk and the equal concern about increased risk of certain infectious diseases, all of which are mediated by NF-kB. To inhibit this important substance with the use of statins is like opening up Pandora's box of unexpected consequences.
Recent data from large-scale statin trials have shown that more intensive LDL lowering can provide significant cardiovascular benefits to higher-risk patients. However, observations such as these that link intensive LDL lowering with higher incidence of reported health problems, including liver and muscle toxicity and cancer, have introduced major concern over the safety of such treatments.
The researchers concluded that moderate-dose therapy with multiple medications including lower dose statins may prove to be preferable to high-dose therapy with statins alone. This comes very close to my long-held beliefs for low dose statins combined with anti-inflammatory supplements.
Duane Graveline MD MPH
Former USAF Flight Surgeon
Former NASA Astronaut
Retired Family Doctor