Statins are not associated with a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer at the population level, when taken at low doses for managing hypercholesterolemia: evidence from a meta-analysis of 12 studies.Am J Gastroenterol. 2008 Oct; 103(10):2646-51.AJ
Recent experimental research on a class of pharmacological agents that reduce plasma cholesterol, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins), has shown promise in pancreatic cancer chemoprevention. While the mechanism remains unclear, several epidemiological studies have also evaluated the relationship between statin use and pancreatic cancer. Our aim was to examine the strength of this association through a detailed meta-analysis of the studies published on the subject in peer-reviewed literature.
A comprehensive search for articles published up to December 2007 was performed, reviews of each study were conducted, and data were abstracted. Prior to meta-analysis, the studies were evaluated for publication bias and heterogeneity. Pooled relative risk (RR) estimates and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using the random-effects model.
Twelve studies (3 randomized placebo-controlled trials [RCTs], 4 cohort, and 5 case-control studies) contributed to the analysis. The studies were grouped on the basis of study design, and separate meta-analyses were conducted. There was no evidence of an association between statin use and pancreatic cancer among either the RCTs (RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.44-2.21) or the observational studies (RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.60-1.24). Similarly, we found no evidence of publication bias. However, a high heterogeneity was detected among the observational studies.
Despite the chemopreventive potential of statins demonstrated in experimental studies, our results do not support the hypothesis that these agents reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer at the population level, when taken at low doses for managing hypercholesterolemia.