Statins May Mask Prostate Cancer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

New research shows that statins lower PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels in men, leading to false information about a man’s risk for developing advanced prostate cancer.

Previous research points to numerous benefits of taking cholesterol medicine for disease prevention, including reducing prostate cancer risk. Now researchers from Henry Ford Hospital say statins alter PSA results, masking prostate cancer risk.

Lead author Piyush K. Agarwal, M.D., an urologist at Henry Ford Hospital suggests that prostate biopsy may be necessary for men who take statins in order to screen for prostate cancer. "The implication is that we may need to lower our PSA threshold for performing a biopsy in patients on statins, as statins may decrease the amount of measurable PSA."


Increased PSA levels are the “gold standard’ for measuring prostate abnormalities in men, especially over age 50. The study authors reviewed medical records of 3,828 patients undergoing prostatectomy between January 2001 and July 2008 at Henry Ford Hospital. They found 1,031 men who were taking statins before surgery.

The results revealed that men with Gleason score 7, a measurement given to prostate cancer based on aggressiveness, had lower PSA levels from taking statins, found in the majority of cases. The same results of lower PSA levels were not associated with men taking statins and Gleason 6 or 8-10. The findings were presented April 26, 2009 at the American Urological Association's annual meeting in Chicago.

The study is the first to look at the effects of statins and prostate cancer, showing that statins may mask prostate cancer among some groups of men.

Henry Ford Health System