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PLoS One. 2013 Sep 25;8(9):e75088. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075088. eCollection 2013.

Mortality and recurrence risk in relation to the use of lipid-lowering drugs in a prospective breast cancer patient cohort.

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Division of Cancer Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.


Lipid-lowering drugs are used for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Statins are the most commonly used lipid-lowering drugs. Evidence from preclinical and observational studies suggests that statins might improve the prognosis of breast cancer patients. We analyzed data from the German MARIEplus study, a large prospective population-based cohort of patients aged 50 and older, who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2001 and 2005. For overall mortality, breast-cancer specific mortality, and non-breast-cancer mortality, we included 3189 patients with invasive breast cancer stage I-IV, and for recurrence risk 3024 patients with breast cancer stage I-III. We used Cox proportional hazards models to assess the association with self-reported lipid-lowering drug use at recruitment. We stratified by study region, tumor grade, and estrogen/progesterone receptor status, and adjusted for age, tumor size, nodal status, metastases (stage I-IV only), menopausal hormone treatment, mode of detection, radiotherapy, and smoking. Mortality analyses were additionally adjusted for cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and body-mass index. During a median follow-up of 5.3 years, 404 of 3189 stage I-IV patients died, and 286 deaths were attributed to breast cancer. Self-reported use of lipid-lowering drugs was non-significantly associated with increased non-breast cancer mortality (Hazard ratio (HR) 1.49, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.88-2.52) and increased overall mortality (HR 1.21, 95% CI 0.87-1.69) whereas no association with breast cancer-specific mortality was found (HR 1.04, 0.67-1.60). Restricted to stage I-III breast cancer patients, 387 recurrences occurred during a median follow-up of 5.4 years. We found lipid-lowering drug use to be non-significantly associated with a reduced risk of recurrence (HR 0.83, 95% CI 0.54-1.24) and of breast cancer-specific mortality (HR 0.89, 95% CI 0.52-1.49). Although compatible with previous findings of an improved prognosis associated with statin use, our results do not provide clear supportive evidence for an association with lipid-lowering drug use due to imprecise estimates.

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