There appears to be a higher prevalence of dyslipidemia prior to diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) compared with control subjects and lipid-lowering medications may confer a survival benefit to these patients, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.1

Metabolic syndrome is associated with an increased risk for developing certain types of cancers. Because abnormal lipid metabolism is observed in patients with CLL, researchers sought to determine if patients with CLL have a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome prior to cancer diagnosis and assess whether lipid-lowering medications impact survival.

For the population-based, case-control study, researchers analyzed data from 2124 patients with CLL and 7935 control subjects age 66 years and older living in Ontario, Canada, between 2000 and 2005. Of those, 35.8% had hypertension, 20.2% had diabetes, and 17.6% had dyslipidemia.

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After adjusting for confounding factors, results showed that dyslipidemia was associated with a 26% higher likelihood of developing CLL (odds ratio [OR], 1.26; 95% CI, 1.11-1.44; P <.001). Researchers also found that hypertension was associated with a 12% higher risk of CLL (OR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.01-1.25; P =.03).

In contrast, metabolic syndrome and diabetes were not associated with an increased likelihood of CLL.

The study further demonstrated that patients with CLL taking lipid-lowering medications such as statins had a 47% reduced risk of death compared with control subjects (HR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.47-0.61; P <.001).

Although these findings are encouraging, future prospective studies are warranted to validate these results and evaluate the impact of lipid-lowering agents on outcomes in patients with CLL.


1. Mozessohn L, Earle C, Spaner D, Cheng SY, Kumar M, Buckstein R. The association of dyslipidemia with chronic lymphocytic leukemia: a population-based study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2016 Oct 17. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw226. [Epub ahead of print]