Researchers recently uncovered the potential of a cholesterol drug, introduced in the 1980s, that may offer mesothelioma victims an effective treatment for the deadly and incurable cancer. The drug, Lovastatin, is used to treat and control high levels of cholesterol among patients.
Early on, scientists found that in initial studies of the drug, dating back 20 years, it had an unexpected and very powerful effect on killing cancerous cells within humans. At that time, however, the anti-cancer effect was considered too risky to continue studying because of the extremely high doses that were needed to be given to a cancer patient. Researchers put the study on hold, according to news reports, until recently when scientists at a Nashville, Tenn., clinic started providing the drug to pleural mesothelioma patients.
Details of Lovastatin and its Cancer-Killing Potential
Researchers have given little notice to Lovastatin as a treatment for mesothelioma cancer even though a stage-four melanoma patient had received treatments of Lovastatin in 2000 and currently remains cancer-free, nearly nine years later. While researchers are unsure that they can find the same success of the melanoma patient, the use of Lovastatin may potentially reduce or slow the cancerous production of mesothelioma cells, which can kill an individual within as little as one year after symptoms appear.
A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that the cholesterol drug induces apoptosis on mesothelioma cells. Apoptosis is also described as programmed cell death, according to the Reproductive and Cardiovascular Disease Research Group. Apoptosis occurs when a stimuli is introduced to a variety of cells in which the cells begin to commit cell suicide. The study looked at the morophologic changes, histologic evidence of nuclear condensation and degeneration, and flow-cytometric analysis of DNA content of the mesothelioma cancer cells treated with Lovastatin and determined it a potentially sufficient treatment for mesothelioma.
What is Lovastatin?
Lovastatin is part of a group of drugs known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins). The drugs decrease the production of bad cholesterol within the body. It is often prescribed to patients as an oral pill that is taken in low-doses — once every four weeks.
Lovastatin does have reported side effects, which have not been fully studied on mesothelioma patients, however, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) the side effects include:
* hives, rashes and itching
* loss of appetite
* flu-like symptoms
* nausea as well as pain in upper right part of stomach
* extreme tiredness
* yellowing of skin and eyes
* lack of energy
* difficulty breathing and swallowing
* swelling of face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles and
* lower legs/calf muscles
* muscle pain, tenderness or weakness
* unusual bleeding or bruising
What to do If Diagnosed With Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma cancer has become increasingly prevalent in the United States and around the world. Individuals who were exposed to a mineral known as vermiculite containing deadly asbestos may have had the condition for 20 or more years without any signs of the cancer within their bodies.
Once researchers began discovering the link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, asbestos was banned in the United States and around the world. However, shipments of asbestos are still being imported into the United States and millions of Americans remain at risk for exposure because of the prevalence of asbestos in many homes, apartments, schools, universities, hospitals and government buildings.
Those who have suffered from mesothelioma cancer or feel they may have been a victim of asbestos exposure have the ability to consult a legal professional for a potential mesothelioma lawsuit. Such litigation may appear overwhelming to a victim, but can potentially offer monetary compensation for the heavy expenses associated with receiving mesothelioma medical treatments. Consulting a mesothelioma attorney is often a free legal service and may add peace of mind for mesothelioma victims, their families and friends.