January 31, 2006

Cholesterol drug inhibits cancer cells in lab

By David Douglas

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Atorvastatin, the widely
prescribed cholesterol-lowering "statin" drug, sold under the
trade name Lipitor, shows significant action against human
bladder cancer cells in laboratory experiments, researchers
report in the medical journal Urology.

Although the findings suggest that atorvastatin is active
against bladder cancer cells, clinical trials are still needed
to confirm these results in patients, lead investigator Dr.
Ashish M. Kamat told Reuters Health.

Kamat and Dr. Gina M. Nelkin of the University of Texas, M.
D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, note that some research
has suggested that statin use might increase the risk of
cancer-related deaths.

To further investigate the effects of atorvastatin, the
researchers examined the activity of this cholesterol-lowering
drug on two types of cultured human bladder cancer cells. At
concentrations comparable to those achievable with oral
administration, atorvastatin inhibited cell growth and DNA
synthesis in both bladder cancer cell types.

This led to significant cell toxicity, which was
demonstrated by DNA fragmentation and induction of cell death.
Destruction of up to 70 percent of bladder cancer cells was

The safety of this drug has already been established Dr.
Kamat pointed out. Based on these new observations, he
recommends that studies be done to evaluate the cancer
prevention capabilities of atorvastatin. "At the least, it
might offer patients, who are often older and smokers,
protection against cardiac events."

SOURCE: Urology, December 2005.