Revolutionary Statin Use: Blocking Chronic Inflammation and Cancer Pathways

A new study conducted at the Cancer Center of Massachusetts General Hospital reveals that statins, drugs known for lowering cholesterol, may block a pathway related to cancer development following chronic inflammation. The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.


Chronic inflammation is a significant factor in cancer development worldwide. Recent research led by Dr. Sean Demhari sheds light on how environmental toxins contribute to chronic inflammation that fosters cancer in the skin and pancreas. This groundbreaking work emphasizes the potential of using statins as a preventive measure against cancer associated with chronic inflammation.

Methods and Findings

Dr. Demhari’s team utilized a comprehensive approach, employing cell lines, animal models, human tissue samples, and epidemiological data. The study uncovered that environmental toxins activate the TLR3/4 and TBK1-IRF3 signaling pathways, prompting the production of the protein interleukin-33 (IL-33). IL-33 is known to instigate inflammation conducive to cancer development.

Upon examining a library of FDA-approved drugs, the research identified pitavastatin as an effective inhibitor of IL-33 expression. It achieves this by blocking the activation of the TBK1-IRF3 signaling pathway. In mouse models, pitavastatin significantly reduced inflammation in the skin and pancreas caused by environmental factors and impeded the progression of inflammation-induced pancreatic cancer.

Human Studies and Epidemiological Data

Tests on human pancreatic tissue samples revealed a higher expression of IL-33 in patients with chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer compared to normal tissue. Furthermore, an analysis of electronic health records from over 200 million people in North America and Europe showed that pitavastatin use significantly reduces the risk of chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.

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Implications and Future Research

These findings suggest that inhibiting IL-33 production with pitavastatin may offer a safe and effective strategy to prevent chronic inflammation and certain types of cancer. Dr. Demhari and his team are keen to explore the impact of statins on preventing cancers associated with chronic inflammation in the liver and gastrointestinal system. They also aim to identify additional therapeutic approaches to mitigate chronic inflammation and its cancer-promoting effects.