Category Archives: New York Times SEAS Cancer Vytorin Zetia non-effective?

The New York Times Ponders Vytorin and Zetia — SEAS and Cancer — Anew, It Would Seem

Hat tip to PM, again — do go read it — but here is a snippet:

. . . in July, Norwegian researchers reported that another trial showed that patients taking Vytorin died from cancer more often than those taking a placebo, or sugar pill. In two other clinical trials still going on, patients taking Vytorin have also been more likely to die from cancer than those not taking it. In all, 136 of about 11,000 people taking Vytorin in the three trials have died of various kinds of cancer, compared with 95 out of 11,000 who took placebo or simvastatin alone.

With little long-term data about ezetimibe’s risks, scientists are scrambling to find an explanation for the seeming cancer link. Some oncologists agree with Merck and Schering that the cancer findings are probably due to chance.

But other scientists say they have a plausible explanation for why ezetimibe may cause cancer. Ezetimibe works by blocking the intestine from absorbing cholesterol. But it also blocks the absorption of closely related compounds called plant sterols, which are found in nuts and vegetables. Some studies have shown that people who eat large amounts of plant sterols have lower cancer rates than those who do not.

Dr. Peter G. Bradford, a pharmacologist at the University of Buffalo who has extensively studied plant sterols, said that in laboratory tests, sterols promote cell death in a way that could make them valuable anti-cancer agents as weapons against tumors. By blocking sterol absorption, ezetimibe could be promoting cancer , he said.

“One might envision that link,” he said. “This is a very large question.” . . .

[Emphasis supplied.]

We’ll know much more, by tomorrow, at noon.