Statins (Cholesterol Lowering Drugs) May Help Prevent Enlarged Prostate

Statins are drugs used to treat high cholesterol, but a new study found that these drugs may also help prevent enlarged prostate in men.

This finding, presented at the annual meeting of American Urological Association, provides additional insight into the effect of statins on prostate. Prior study at Duke University Medical Center has found an association between the cholesterol-lowering drugs and lower levels of PSA, a protein produced by prostate cancer that is often elevated by cancer or by non-lethal prostate disease.

In the current findings, prostatic growth rate diminished among men with elevated PSA levels who took statins, although the effect was relatively small and tapered off after about two years.

“Enlarged prostate is an important health problem in the United States and will become a serious problem as the population ages, so it is important to understand and treat its cause,” Roberto Muller, MD, an urologist at Duke University, who led the study said.

The enlarged prostate, causing urinary problems that can escalate into the bladder and kidney damage. Up to 90% of men aged over 70 have some symptoms associated with enlarged prostate, according to the National Institutes of Health

Muller and colleagues used data collected for an unrelated, trial testing drug called dutasteride, which can be used to treat prostate enlargement. For the trial, the researchers retrieved data for more than 6,000 men, including 1032 who also took statins. Men on statin were older on average than non-users, but had a similar prostate volume.

At two years, prostate growth was less for the men in the study who took a statin drug, regardless of whether they had been randomly assigned to take dutasteride or dummy pills. In men who took both a statin and a dummy pill, prostate growth is 3.8 percent less than untreated men. For those taking statins and dutasteride pill, prostate growth is 5 percent less.

“Some have suggested that statins may have anti-inflammatory properties, and inflammation have been associated with prostate growth, but further research is needed to assess its effects” Muller said.

Muller says that the current study also shows that lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise may not only affect cholesterol, but also one’s prostate health.

“Prostate enlargement was once considered an inevitable consequence of aging and genetics, but there is growing awareness that the growth of the prostate can be affected by modifiable risk factors,” Muller said. “In this context, the role of blood cholesterol levels and cholesterol lowering drugs like statins warrants further study.”