Study Design Flaws Led to Conclusion That Statins Lengthen Cancer Patients’ Lives, Researchers Say

Study Design Flaws Led to Conclusion That Statins Lengthen Cancer Patients’ Lives, Researchers Say
Starting cholesterol-lowering statin therapy within six months of a cancer diagnosis does not improve patients' survival at three years, according to a study that found scientific bias in previous research. The study, “Examining Bias in Studies of Statin Treatment and Survival in Patients With Cancer,” was published in JAMA oncology. It dealt with the findings of previous observational research — studies that are more prone to bias because they do not include control groups. A number of previous studies have reported that cancer patients who use statins do significantly better than those who don't. In fact, research has shown that 18-44 percent of prostate, breast, and colorectal cancer patients who are on statins survive longer than those who aren't on them. Statins also lengthen the lives of people without cancer, studies have shown. This has intrigued the scientific community and ignited further research in the area. Researchers decided to look at whether two kinds of scientific bias could have played a role in studies that suggested statins increased cancer patients' survival. Actually, three types of bias could have creeped in, they said. One is bias from confounding variables. This could have occurred if the results were not properly adjusted for factors associated with the start and completion of statin therapy. Another possibility is selection bias. Those conducting the studies could have included many people who were using
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