Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins may prevent various forms of cancer, including prostate and colon cancer, two teams of researchers said this week.

Israelis who took statins had a 51 percent lower risk of developing colon cancer than those who did not take the drugs, Dr. Stephen Gruber of the University of Michigan told a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

A second study at Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute showed that men who took statins had a 58 percent lower risk of prostate cancer.

Combined, the studies suggest that statins, which reduce how much cholesterol the body makes, may also affect some the of the processes that underlie cancer.

But Gruber warned his study was “observational,” or based on questionnaires rather than strict scientific controls, so it is far too early to definitively conclude that statins can prevent cancer.

His team studied 3,342 Israeli patients, about half of them with colorectal cancer, comparing them to a similar number of people matched for age, gender, and ethnicity.

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