Currently Viewing:
SGO Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer
Dr Martha Gaines Discusses the Importance of the Patient Voice
March 25, 2018
Clinical Trials Can Reduce Disparities in Advanced Ovarian Cancer, but Funding Is Needed, Researchers Say
March 25, 2018
Dr Scott Page: Diversity in Healthcare Improves Patient Outcomes
March 25, 2018
Deciding When to Use PARP Inhibitors, and Which One
March 25, 2018
Boys Don't Get HPV Vaccination Because Doctors Don't Recommend It, Study Finds
March 25, 2018
Dr Victoria Bae-Jump on Obesity and Endometrial Cancer
March 25, 2018
Dr Anna Beavis Discusses Gender Differences in HPV Vaccination
March 25, 2018
Putting PARP Inhibitor Perspectives Into Practice in "Beyond the Guidelines" Session
March 26, 2018
Dr Oliver Dorigo on New, Innovative Therapies in Gynecologic Cancers
March 26, 2018
Dr William Cliby Explains Predictors of Patient Outcomes in Ovarian Cancer
March 26, 2018
Currently Reading
Study Explores Mechanism Linking Statin to Reduced Tumor Size in Endometrial Cancer
March 26, 2018
Dr Sean C. Dowdy: Reducing Opioid Abuse in Patients Undergoing Surgery for Gynecologic Malignancies
April 04, 2018
Dr Victoria Bae-Jump Discusses Standard of Care, Novel Therapies For Endometrial Cancer
April 11, 2018
Dr Oliver Dorigo: Novel Therapies Being Researched by Stanford for Gynecologic Malignancies
April 13, 2018
Dr Anna Beavis Highlights Importance of Addressing Gender Gaps in HPV Vaccination
April 15, 2018
Dr William Cliby: Patient Factors and Surgery, Quality of Care For Ovarian Cancer
April 16, 2018
Dr Sean C. Dowdy Discusses Improving Surgical Outcomes in Gynecologic Oncology
April 18, 2018
Dr Martha Gaines: Turning Experience as Cancer Survivor into Patient Advocacy
April 20, 2018
Dr Oliver Dorigo on Identified Biomarkers in Gynecologic Malignancies
April 25, 2018
Dr Victoria Bae-Jump on Challenges in Treating Patients With Endometrial Cancer
April 27, 2018
Dr William Cliby Discusses Improving Surgical Outcomes in Ovarian Cancer
April 30, 2018
Dr Sean C. Dowdy on Delays Between Discovering Improved Treatment, Practice and the Application of It
May 05, 2018
Dr Martha Gaines on Helping Patients Understand Their Disease, Identifying Available Resources
May 11, 2018
Dr Oliver Dorigo Discusses an Interdisciplinary Approach to Care in Gynecologic Oncology
May 14, 2018

Study Explores Mechanism Linking Statin to Reduced Tumor Size in Endometrial Cancer

Mary Caffrey
The lead researcher said the study could lead to women being given a statin as soon as they are diagnosed with endometrial cancer. 
For years, scientists have noticed a link between statins and lower cancer rates, but the mechanism is not well-studied as a cancer therapy. An abstract presented Monday at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s 2018 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer, taking place in New Orleans, Louisiana, explored the metabolic process of how statins reduced tumor size in genetically engineered mice.

Lindsay West, MD, a fellow in gynecologic oncology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, said her team’s experiments show that not only does simvastatin fight tumors in endometrial cancer, the effect is greatest when subjects are obese. This has important implications, given that half of all endometrial cancers rates can be attributed to obesity, and US obesity rates are rising.

As West noted, most of the epidemiological evidence on statins comes from cardiovascular studies, including that for endometrial cancer, which has a particularly high association with obesity. The National Cancer Institute reports statins may have a protective effect against colorectal cancer, and a large, 14-year study reported last year at the European Society of Cardiology found statin use was associated with lower rates of breast cancer and subsequent mortality.

The Experiment

Researchers used 2 groups of study mice: 1 group was fed a low-fat diet (10% calories from fat, the lean group) and the other a high-fat diet (60% calories derived from fat, the obese group) to mimic diet-induced obesity, starting at 3 weeks of age. At 6 weeks, the mice were treated to induce invasive endometrial cancer. The mice were then given simvastatin or placebo once tumors appeared (3 mg/kg per day for 4 weeks). Researchers measured tumor size and body weight, and lipid and metabolic behavior to evaluate both the effects of simvastatin as well as the effects of obesity on the tumors.


West explained that simvastatin use did not affect overall body weight. The obese mice were larger than the lean mice (30 g compared with 25 g, P <.0001), consistent with those treated with simvastatin (28 g v. 24 g P <.02). But the statin use did shrink tumor size by 46% in the obese mice and by 30% in the lean mice (P <.05). Simvastatin appeared to have significant metabolic effects that interfered with tumor growth, with greater effects in the obese mice.

“Striking differences were seen especially as it pertained to lipid biosynthesis and storage in the obese tumor,” West said.

Statins work by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase, which reduces cholesterol biosynthesis and regulates lipid metabolism. Without simvastatin, lipid storage in the obese mice fueled the aggressive tumor growth. West reviewed the metabolic results to explain how the simvastatin had different effects on the lean and obese mice. In lean mice, the drug impaired beta oxidation, with fatty acids diverted to lipid storage. But when the obese mice took simvastatin, beta oxidation was already impaired, and the drug furthered impaired oxidation.

“However, in obese tumors, lipid storage was already at maximum capacity,” she said, and the drug blocked the free fatty acids from going to lipid storage. Because free fatty acids could not go to beta oxidation and could not be stored, they accumulated in the cell, West said, “becoming lipotoxic,” and creating the enhanced effect against the tumors in these mice.

As a result, she said, researchers at the UNC Chapel Hill are in the earliest stages of investigating this concept with atorvastatin.

In an interview with The American Journal of Managed Care®, West said this concept is not designed to show whether statins could be used in primary prevention against cancer, but the studies could eventually lead to statins being given to patients routinely once endometrial cancer is diagnosed. With their low cost and well-established track record in health plans, “statins could be an attractive therapy in obesity-driven cancers.”

Copyright AJMC 2006-2019 Clinical Care Targeted Communications Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Welcome the the new and improved, the premier managed market network. Tell us about yourself so that we can serve you better.
Sign Up