Estrogen and progesterone receptor-negative breast cancer disproportionately affects young women and African Americans, has a poor prognosis, and lacks an effective chemoprevention agent. 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, known as "statins," are appealing candidate agents for breast cancer chemoprevention because of their demonstrated safety after decades of widespread use. In preclinical studies, statins inhibit multiple cancer-associated pathways in both hormone receptor (HR)-negative and HR-positive cell lines. Epidemiologic studies of statins and breast cancer show inconsistent results, with some suggesting a reduction in HR-negative breast cancer incidence in lipophilic statin users. However, large meta-analyses show no association between statin use and overall risk of breast cancer, although most did not evaluate tumor HR status. Multiple phase 1 and 2 prevention studies of statins for breast cancer risk reduction are ongoing. If results are promising, they may justify a randomized trial of statins for breast cancer chemoprevention, with a focus on HR-negative disease.
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