Are statins good for something other than lowering a person's cholesterol? Recent studies have shown that these drugs may have therapeutic effects on certain cancers, and a new study published in Cell shows statins may inhibit the development or growth of breast cancer, reports HealthDay's Denise Mann. Researchers at Columbia University in New York say when mutant p53 cancer cells were treated with statin, they stopped growing and, in some cases, died. "It seems that the mutated p53 genes may activate the same pathway that the statins inhibit — the mevalonate pathway," Mann says. "The mevalonate pathway is important in the body's production of cholesterol. In the study, the effects of the statin drugs were erased when the mevalonate pathway was reactivated, supporting the potential mechanism."
The study's authors are optimistic about the implications of their study, Mann adds. But they also note that the use of statins hasn't been studied in women with p53 mutations yet, and that the actual use of statins to treat breast cancer is far away from the clinic, if it gets there at all.