‘Scaremongering’ study claims statins double breast cancer risk

An American medical body has made the bold claim that statins can double the risk of developing breast cancer.

The National Cancer Institute studied 3,000 women and claimed that those who took the cholesterol-lowering drugs were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer later in life, especially if they took the drugs for more than 10 years.

The findings, which were reported by the Sunday Express, come as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) encourages doctors to prescribe statins to millions of people in a bid to lower the risk of heart attack or stroke. However, the breast cancer study has led experts to call for a re-think on the new recommendations, according to news reports.

What the reports don’t tell you is that they have been extremely selective in quoting this one study published in September 2013 which is potentially biased and should therefore be viewed with the utmost of caution. It is worth noting that the same journal in which this study featured last September also included a much larger study a month later, which showed no increased risk of breast cancer following long-term use of statins.

There is a lot of evidence available from cohort studies and randomised clinical trials into the possible link between the statin drugs and breast cancer, none of which points to anything like what this particular study showed.

It is worrying that many women – and men – will have read this article and panic that they are increasing their risk of breast cancer by taking statins. But this is simply not the case.

Here at Genesis, we work tirelessly to research how the disease can be prevented and therefore welcome any new findings which might help us to achieve a future free from breast cancer. However, we also believe that claims, such as this one from the National Cancer Institute, shouldn’t be taken at face value and should be read in context with other research.

In summary, we believe this article is somewhat irresponsible, suggesting that such drugs as statins – which are essential for some people and are proven to have a host of health benefits – can double the risk of breast cancer.

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