Statins may reduce ulcerated melanoma risk

Common cholesterol lowering medications and anti-inflammatory drugs may prevent skin cancers from developing into a deadly type of melanoma.

A Queensland study of nearly 800 new melanoma patients found those who used statins regularly - at least three times a week for a minimum of three months - were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with an ulcerated melanoma compared to non-users.

"It is possible that statins modify inflammatory mechanisms in the body that cause melanomas to become ulcerated but further studies are needed to confirm that statins can prevent the onset of melanoma ulceration, particularly before these medications can be used therapeutically," lead investigator Lena von Shuckmann at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute said.

Queensland study has shown regular use of statins reduced the risk of developing an ulcerated melanoma.

Queensland study has shown regular use of statins reduced the risk of developing an ulcerated melanoma.

The study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology also assessed other anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin and ibuprofen and found similar results.

"We observed that the other medications with anti-inflammatory properties that we assessed were also negatively associated with ulcerated melanomas," the authors wrote.

Concerningly, the study also showed diabetics were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with an ulcerated melanoma as non-diabetics.

While larger studies are required, the researchers say the finding builds on existing research that inflammation in the body caused by smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease may also be associated with melanomas becoming ulcerated.

"This new research is quite exciting because it tells us there are potentially modifiable factors associated with developing an ulcerated melanoma, like preventing diabetes with a healthy lifestyle," Dr von Schuckmann said.