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Statins may help prevent ovarian cancer

Wednesday February 19th, 2020

Statins may have a protective effect on the risk of developing ovarian cancer, British researchers reported last night.

A team led by Professor Richard Martin of the University of Bristol, UK, examined the potential “chemopreventive” role of statins in epithelial ovarian cancer, which had been highlighted in previous early-stage studies.

They also looked at the impact on ovarian cancer risk specifically for women with BRCA1/2 mutations.

Statins inhibit an enzyme called 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase. This can also be inhibited in people with certain genetic variants.

They looked at 63,347 women aged 20 to 100 years, of whom 22,406 had ovarian cancer, plus a further 31,448 women who carried the BRCA1/2 fault, of whom 3,887 had ovarian cancer.

Genetic analysis showed a link between genetically low HMG-CoA reductase and an estimated 40% reduction in ovarian cancer risk. But the team say that further research is needed to find out whether there is a similar link with medications, such as statins, that inhibit HMG-CoA reductase.

Full details were published yesterday (18 February) in JAMA. Professor Martin said: “Our findings open up the possibility of repurposing a cheap drug to help prevent ovarian cancer – especially in women who are at a higher risk. But we don’t recommend anyone rushes to take statins specifically to reduce ovarian cancer risk because of this study.”

The research was partly funded by Cancer Research UK. Dr Rachel Orritt of the charity said: “This study is a great first step to finding out if statins could play a role in lowering ovarian cancer risk - and justifies future research into this area. But there’s not yet enough evidence to know if statins themselves could reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer safely.”

Yarmolinsky, J. et al. Association between genetically-proxied inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase and epithelial ovarian cancer. JAMA 18 February 2020; doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.0150

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2761089

Tags: Cancer | Pharmaceuticals | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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