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May 15, 1996

Carcinogenicity of Lipid-Lowering Drugs

Author Affiliations

Stanford University School of Medicine Palo Alto, Calif

JAMA. 1996;275(19):1480. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530430023027

To the Editor.  —I heard about the article by Drs Newman and Hulley1 from an overweight 55-year-old man with non—insulin-dependent diabetes, high blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level of 4.7 mmol/L (180 mg/dL), and high-density lipoprotein level of 0.80 mmol/L (31 mg/dL) who announced that he would no longer take his lipid-lowering medication because it "causes cancer." No amount of explanation of the relative risks vs benefits of cholesterol lowering or of the limited relevance of rodent studies to human risk could dissuade him. I couldn't help but be dismayed that this 20 minutes would have been better spent focusing on improving his (poor) glycemic control.I was grateful when I finally read my issue of JAMA to find the thoughtful Commentary by Drs Dalen and Dalton2 placing the article by Newman and Hulley in context. Unfortunately, patients are so terrified of cancer that once they hear that