It's potential manna from heaven for statin makers: A new study shows the drugs may prevent cancer. Real FDA-sanctioned marketing is years of research away, but we expect a flurry of journal article reprints in doctors' mailboxes in the meantime. Just think of the patients who are, for whatever reason, iffy about going on a statin. One mention of the Big C-word, and they might zip over to the pharmacy posthaste.
This new study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, looked at two groups of veterans: those on blood-pressure meds and those on statins. A little over 9 percent of the statin patients developed cancer; 13 percent of the others did. What's more, the higher the statin dose, the lower the incidence of cancer.
The study has its limits, though. Researchers couldn't adjust for smoking or alcohol use, for instance. And it's a meta-analysis, useful more for pointing the way to rigorous trials than for, say, expanding the approved uses of a drug.
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