American Journal of Medicine, internal medicine, medicine, health, healthy lifestyles, cancer, heart disease, drugs

Statins Decrease the Occurrence of Venous Thromboembolism in Patients with Cancer

In addition to cholesterol-lowering effect, statins exhibit anti-thrombotic and anti-inflammatory properties, which may affect coagulation cascade. In cancer patients, the use of statins decreased the odds of developing venous thromboembolism, when compared with non-statins users.


Recent data suggest a reduction in the occurrence of venous thromboembolism in select groups of patients who use statins. The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of statin use on the occurrence of venous thromboembolism in patients with solid organ tumor.

We conducted a retrospective, case-control study reviewing 740 consecutive patients with a diagnosis of solid organ tumor who were admitted to the Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, Penn, between October 2004 and September 2007. Patients treated with anticoagulation therapy before their first admission were excluded. The occurrence of venous thromboembolism, risk factors for venous thromboembolism, and statin use were recorded. Patients who never used statins or had used them for less than 2 months were relegated to the control group.

The mean age of the study population was 65 years, and 52% of the patients were women and 76% were African American. The occurrence of venous thromboembolism was 18% (N = 132), and 26% (N = 194) were receiving statins. Among patients receiving statins, 8% (N = 16) developed a venous thromboembolism compared with 21% (N = 116) in the control group (odds ratio 0.33; 95% confidence interval, 0.19-0.57). A logistic regression analysis including risk factors for venous thromboembolism (metastatic disease, use of chemotherapy, immobilization, smoking, and aspirin use) along with statin use yielded the same results.

This study suggests that the use of statins is associated with a significant reduction in the occurrence of venous thromboembolism. This pleiotropic effect warrants further investigation.

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— Danai Khemasuwan, MD, Matthew L. DiVietro, DO, Kawin Tangdhanakanond, MD, Sherry C. Pomerantz, PhD, Glenn Eiger, MD

This article originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

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