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Med Res Rev. 2010 Jan;30(1):102-35. doi: 10.1002/med.20162.

Statins can modulate effectiveness of antitumor therapeutic modalities.

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Department of Immunology, Center of Biostructure Research, The Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.


Despite significant, frequently very strong, antiproliferative and tumoricidal effects of statins demonstrated in vitro, their antitumor effects in animal models are modest, and their efficacy in clinical trials has not been proven. As such, statins seem unlikely to be ever regarded as antitumor agents. However, statins are regularly taken by many elderly cancer patients for the prevention of cardiovascular events. Owing to their pleiotropic effects in normal and tumor cells, statins interact in various ways with many antitumor treatment modalities, either potentiating or diminishing their effectiveness. Elucidation of these interactions might affect the choice of treatment to be planned in cancer patients as some combinations might be contraindicated, whereas others might elicit potentiated antitumor effects but at a cost of increased general toxicity. Some other combinations might induce either comparable or even stronger antitumor effects, but with a beneficial concomitant reduction of specific side effects. Most of the studies reviewed in this article have been carried in vitro or in experimental tumor models, but clinical relevance of the findings is also discussed.

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