Statins are 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors that
may play an important role in the evolution of cancers, due to their effects on cancer cell metabolism.
Statins affect several potential pathways, including cell proliferation, angiogenesis, apoptosis and metastasis.
The number of trials assessing the putative clinical benefits of statins in cancer is increasing.
Currently, there are several trials listed on the global trial identifier website clinicaltrials.gov. Given
the compelling evidence from these trials in a variety of clinical settings, there have been calls for a
clinical trial of statins in the adjuvant gastrointestinal cancer setting. However, randomized controlled
trials on specific cancer types in relation to statin use, as well as studies on populations without a
clinical indication for using statins, have elucidated some potential underlying biological mechanisms,
and the investigation of different statins is probably warranted. It would be useful for these trials to incorporate
the assessment of tumour biomarkers predictive of statin response in their design.
This review summarizes the recent preclinical and clinical studies that assess the application of statins
in the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers with particular emphasize on their association
with cancer risk.