A new study, conducted by researchers of Tampere University, Finland, has found that prostate cancer screening results differ in men who take statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs, according to Science Daily.
The study, published last month in the JAMA Oncology, found that screening did not increase the risk of prostate cancer in statin users.
The researchers found the clearest difference in low-risk cancer, which is often over-diagnosed due to screening. In statin users, the number of low-risk tumors found in screening was significantly lower. However, using statin caused no difference in the detection of high-risk cancers.
In the screened group, prostate cancer mortality was slightly lower than in the unscreened group, both in men taking statins and other men, according to Science Daily.
Study author Prof. TeemuMurtola said, “The study provides significant new information because statin use is very common and the effects of prostate cancer screening have not been previously evaluated in relation to statin use.”
The study findings may be explained by the fact that using statins improves the accuracy of prostate cancer screening. This means screening detects dangerous types of cancer in these men as well as in others, but in statin users, there is less of the so-called over-diagnosis.
An over-diagnosis means the detection of low-risk prostate cancers that usually do not pose a health risk due to their very slow growth rate.
Another explanation could be that men who take statins are a select group who are already actively using health services and who have had PSA tests outside systematic screening. And in such cases, the additional screening done in the study does not have such a great impact.
The findings were based on data from the Finnish Prostate Cancer Screening Trial that took place between 1996 and 1999.
The researchers look at more than 80,000 men, of whom just under 32,000 were screened with the PSA [prostate-specific antigen] test every four years.