PHILADELPHIAThe combination of a common cholesterol-lowering agent, lovastatin(Drug information on lovastatin) (Mevacor), with an NSAID may be more effective than NSAIDs alone in the chemoprevention of colon cancer, a new study shows. The data were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting.
We know that older people who take aspirin(Drug information on aspirin) to prevent heart attacks may also be protecting themselves against colon cancer, said Banke Agarwal, MD, lead investigator. Now it appears that individuals who also take cholesterol-lowering agents in the HMG-CoA reductase family may be doubly protected.
Dr. Agarwal, a fellow in gastroenterology at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University, said that lovastatin, an HMG-CoA (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A) reductase inhibitor, was found in two clinical trials, designed to study its effects on coronary events, to reduce new colon cancer cases by 43% and 19% during 5-year follow-up. We previously demonstrated that lovastatin induces apoptosis in colon cancer cells, he said. We now report that lovastatin augments apoptosis induced by sulindac(Drug information on sulindac) several-fold in three colon cancer cell lines.
The study suggests that adding lo-vastatin may allow use of lower doses of NSAIDs so as to reduce the undesired GI effects associated with NSAID use, he said.
This is a preliminary study, and larger more definitive studies need to be done to confirm these findings, Dr. Agarwal concluded.