The use of statins, particularly lipophilic statins, may be associated with an increased risk for non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) in postmenopausal white women, according to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer.1

However, the researchers found that there was no clear trend in duration of use. The researchers reported that women taking statins for less than 3 years had a significant increase in odds of NMSC compared with never users, but women taking statins for more than 3 years were not significantly different compared with never users.

“We felt that the relationship between NMSC and statin use is an important clinical question, as NMSC is the most common cancer in the United States and statins are a common and growing class of medications,” said study co-author Ange Wang, who is an MD candidate at Stanford University in Stanford, CA.

“Additionally, statins carry a photosensitivity warning, which suggests that they may have cutaneous effects. Given the high cost of NMSC and widespread use of statins, we wanted to further investigate this relationship. Some previous studies have suggested that a relationship between statin use and increased NMSC risk may exist, though most studies have been retrospective in nature. Ours is a prospective study which is subject to less recall bias.”

Wang and colleagues used data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study and WHI Clinical Trial to investigate the prospective relationship between statin use and NMSC in non-Hispanic white postmenopausal women.

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The cohort included 118 357 women with no cancer history at baseline. All were between 50 and 79 years, and enrolled at 40 centers in the United States. The association of statin use and NMSC incidence was determined using random-effects logistic regression models. The investigators looked at baseline values, as well as overall statin use as a time-varying variable, statin duration, statin type, potency, and lipophilicity.