Washington D.C : Cancer patients who pop statin pills are less likely to die of the four most common forms of cancer, suggests a new study.
The 14 year study from nearly one million patients found that a high cholesterol diagnosis was associated with lower risk of death in lung, breast, prostate and bowel cancers.
Lead author Paul Carter from the Aston University in Birmingham, UK said: “The discovery of a link between obesity and high cholesterol as risk factors for cancer has been exciting for researchers and the public,” adding “Even trendier is the idea that if high cholesterol can cause cancer, then cholesterol lowering interventions such as statins could reduce this risk.”
He continued: “We previously found an association between having high cholesterol and developing breast cancer.2 Animal studies show that giving statins for high cholesterol can reduce the risk of breast cancer. We wanted to see if there was any effect of high cholesterol on mortality amongst cancer patients.”
The study analysed information from 22,677 people suffering from lung, breast, prostate and bowel cancer, the four most common cancers in the UK.
After adjusting for factors which might influence mortality, including age, gender, ethnicity, and the ten most common causes of death in the UK, the researchers found that patients with cancer were less likely to die if they had a diagnosis of high cholesterol than if they did not.
Having a diagnosis of high cholesterol was associated with a 22 percent lower risk of death in patients with lung cancer, 43 percent lower risk of death in breast cancer, 47 percent lower risk of death in prostate cancer, and 30 percent lower risk of death in bowel cancer.
Carter noted: “Our research suggests that there’s something about having a high cholesterol diagnosis that improves survival and the extent to which it did that was quite striking in the four cancers studied. Based on previous research we think there’s a very strong possibility that statins are producing this effect.”
Senior author Rahul Potluri said, “The results of this study strengthen the argument for a clinical trial evaluating the possible protective effect of statins and other routinely used cardiovascular medications such as aspirin, blood pressure medications, beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors in patients with cancer. Whether it is statins and/or other cardiovascular drugs in combination that have an effect on mortality remains to be seen.”
Potluri concluded: “Patients with cancer who are at high risk or have established cardiovascular disease should be given statins as per current guidelines. I don’t think at the moment we can give statins for cancer per se. But this could change if there was a positive result in the clinical trial.”
The study has been presented at Frontiers in Cardio Vascular Biology (FCVB).