A recent study has shown that the levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a marker of prostate cancer, lower in men who take statin drugs. This may lower the risk of advanced prostate cancer in men, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
High levels of PSA are associated with prostate cancer and other benign conditions of the prostate. Generally, men who have high levels of this antigen are recommended to have a biopsy of the prostate. In the present study, the researchers tried to trace the changes in the levels of PSA with statins in about 1,214 men who took the drug.
Researcher Robert J. Hamilton, MD, MPH, reported that after starting the use of statins, the level of PSA is reduced by 1.4% and this reduction in the level of antigen was proportional to the reduction in the levels of cholesterol with statins. Although the average reduction of PSA was less, men who started with high levels of PSA, about 2.5 ng/mL or more, along with a high decrease in the reduction of cholesterol, had a greater decrease in the levels of PSA (17.4%).
According to Hamilton, these results may suggest that:
- Statins affect the biology of the prostate
- Men who are taking statins have lowered levels of PSA without having any changes in the risk of prostate cancer. This may make PSA tests harder to interpret.
“It is also possible that advanced prostate cancer is linked to statins”, adds Hamilton. Ian M. Thompson, MD, professor and chairman of the department of urology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, remarks that an individual shouldn't worry about the decline in PSA levels and the wrong interpretation of the PSA tests. According to him, the ‘regression to mean’ phenomenon is common in many clinical tests. So, if a man who is taking statins undergoes a PSA test and received a borderline score, the test can be repeated.
He feels that must not depend on the scores of that single test; it is better to wait for a few months to repeat the test, and the levels would have come back by that time. It is not known whether PSA screenings can reduce deaths due to prostate cancer. There are two ongoing clinical trials focused on this and may answer the question once it is over.
The new study has shown only a slight drop in PSA levels with statins, and it is still not clear whether statins lower the risk of prostate cancer.