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Although newer immunosuppressive agents, such as mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) inhibitors, have lowered the occurrence of malignancies after transplantation, cancer is still a leading cause of death late after heart transplantation. Statins may have an impact on clinical outcomes beyond their lipid-lowering effects. The aim of the present study was to delineate whether statin therapy has an impact on cancer risk and total mortality after heart transplantation. A total of 255 patients who underwent heart transplantation at the University Hospital Zurich between 1985 and 2007 and survived the first year were included in the present study. The primary outcome measure was the occurrence of any malignancy; the secondary end point was overall survival. During follow-up, a malignancy was diagnosed in 108 patients (42%). The cumulative incidence of tumors 8 years after transplantation was reduced in patients receiving a statin (34% versus 13%; 95% confidence interval, 0.25-0.43 versus 0.07-0.18; P<0.003). Statin use was associated with improved cancer-free and overall survival (both P<0.0001). A Cox regression model that analyzed the time to tumor formation with or without statin therapy, adjusted for age, male sex, type of cardiomyopathy, and immunosuppressive therapy (including switch to mTOR inhibitors or tacrolimus), demonstrated a superior survival in the statin group. Statins reduced the hazard of occurrence of any malignancy by 67% (hazard ratio, 0.33; 95% confidence interval, 0.21-0.51; P<0.0001). Although it is not possible to adjust for all potential confounders because of the very long follow-up period, this registry suggests that statin use is associated with improved cancer-free and overall survival after cardiac transplantation. These data will need to be confirmed in a prospective trial.


Georg Marcus Fröhlich, Kaspar Rufibach, Frank Enseleit, Mathias Wolfrum, Michelle von Babo, Michelle Frank, Reto Berli, Mathias Hermann, Johannes Holzmeister, Markus Wilhelm, Volkmar Falk, Georg Noll, Thomas F Lüscher, Frank Ruschitzka. Statins and the risk of cancer after heart transplantation. Circulation. 2012 Jul 24;126(4):440-7

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PMID: 22761452

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