Observational studies have demonstrated a decreased incidence of cancers among users of HMG CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) and a reduced risk of recurrence among statin users diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. We initiated a prospective study to identify potential biomarkers of simvastatin chemopreventive activity that can be validated in future trials. The contralateral breast of women with a previous history of breast cancer was used as a high-risk model. Eligible women who had completed all planned treatment of a prior stage 0–III breast cancer received simvastatin 40 mg orally daily for 24–28 weeks. At baseline and end-of-study, we measured circulating concentrations of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), estrogens, and fasting lipids; breast density on contralateral breast mammogram; and quality of life by Rand Short Form 36-Item health survey. Fifty women were enrolled with a median age of 53 years. Total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglyceride, and hsCRP fell significantly during the study (P values < 0.001, <0.001, 0.003, and 0.05, respectively). Estrone sulfate concentrations decreased with simvastatin treatment (P = 0.01 overall), particularly among post-menopausal participants (P = 0.006). We did not observe a significant change in circulating estradiol or estrone concentrations, contralateral mammographic breast density, or reported physical functioning or pain scores. This study demonstrates the feasibility of short-term biomarker modulation studies using the contralateral breast of high-risk women. Simvastatin appears to modulate estrone sulfate concentrations and its potential chemopreventive activity in breast cancer warrants further investigation.
Keywords: Simvastastin, Breast density, Chemoprevention, Breast cancer, Contralateral breast