Statins or sunshine?


Having a low cholesterol level increases the risk of cancer. This has been shown in many studies over the past half century.

For example, in 1974, a study found that "High blood cholesterol concentrations conferred protection against colon cancer."[1] And there are many others that support the fact that having a high cholesterol level protects against cancer.

However, in 2005 another study of statins found a ". . . reduced risk of cancer, particularly colorectal, . . . in those who received simvastatin."[2]

So, if high cholesterol protects against colorectal cancer, but a cholesterol-lowering statin also protects against the same cancer, there is obviously some conflict. How can a drug that lowers blood cholesterol reduce the risk of colon cancer when high blood cholesterol is protective?

The answer appears to be statin's similarity to vitamin D. Protective role of UVB and vitamin D in Cancer is well established:

"Bladder, breast, colon, kidney, oesophageal, ovarian, prostate, rectal, stomach, and uterine cancers, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are associated with low exposure to ultraviolet light."[3]

But wouldn't you be healthier if you got out in the sun a bit more? Or if you took supplements of vitamin D? These don't carry the side effects of statins.

Sunshine and vitamin D also prevent and treat many other cancers — including malignant melanoma.


1. Rose G, Blackburn H, Keys A, et al. Colon cancer and cholesterol. Lancet 1974; 1: 181-83.
2. Poytner JN, Gruber SB, Higgins PDR, et al. Statins and risk of colorectal cancer. N Engl J Med 2005; 352: 2184-92.
3. Grant WB. An estimate of premature cancer mortality in the US due to inadequate doses of solar ultraviolet-B radiation. Cancer 2002; 94: 1867-75.

Back to Statins, Part 5
Forward to Sunshine and: diabetes, transplants, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease

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Last updated: December 9, 2011