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Researchers Receive $4.4 Million in Federal Funds to Determine If Statin Drug Can Prevent Heart Problems in Breast Cancer Patients

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has been awarded $4.4 million to conduct a multiple-site clinical trial testing the effectiveness of a statin drug in preventing cardiovascular events in women treated for breast cancer.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) awarded Wake Forest Baptist $3 million for the project and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) contributed $1.4 million. Both institutes are components of the federal National Institutes of Health.

“Advances in cancer treatment have improved survival rates, but some treatments, especially the chemotherapy drug regimens that include anthracyclines, also increase cancer survivors’ risk of serious heart problems,” said Gregory Hundley, M.D., professor cardiology at Wake Forest Baptist and the study’s lead investigator.  “Observational studies have indicated that statin drugs can reduce these events in breast cancer patients, and we aim to find out exactly how effective atorvastatin is in this population.  It may be that the anti-inflammatory effects of statins, rather than their cholesterol lowering effects, are helpful during cancer treatment.”

Atorvastatin is a cholesterol-lowering medication that is also prescribed to prevent heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems.

The study will be implemented at Wake Forest Baptist, three other hospitals in North Carolina and hospitals in South Carolina, Louisiana, Kansas and New York. It will be managed by the NCI Community Oncology Program (NCORP) Research Base at Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is one of the seven research bases in the nationwide program.

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