Statins linked to dramatic reduction in cancer death rates, research suggests

Statins are lipid-lowering tablets taken by many to reduce high cholesterol

Yaiza Derbyshire Vieira
Friday 08 July 2016 18:00 BST
Some 7 million people in the UK take statins to lower cholesterol
Some 7 million people in the UK take statins to lower cholesterol (AFP/Getty)

Statins may significantly cut the risk of dying from four of the most common cancers, research has suggested.

Scientists have found the number of deaths among cancer patients diagnosed with high cholesterol see “striking” reductions following treatment with the cholesterol-lowering drugs.

A study has found that those diagnosed with high cholesterol have a 43 per cent lower risk of dying from breast cancer, 47 per cent from prostate cancer, 30 per cent from bowel cancer and 22 per cent from lung cancer.

The study evaluated health records of close to a million cancer patients admitted to UK hospitals between January 2000 and March 2013. The data was then compared with mortality figures obtained from the Office for National Statistics.

The findings support previous research indicating that statins may offer protection to cancer patients. The scientists said that the tests indicate the blocking of the hormone oestrogen, which causes high cholesterol through statins, could slow cancer growth dramatically.

The researchers have called for further studies on the cholesterol-lowering drugs in light of the findings.

Dr Paul Carter, from Aston University in Birmingham, UK, who presented the new findings at a cardiovascular conference, said: “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.”

Dr Rahul Potluri, from Aston University which conducted the investigation, said: “Statins have some of the best mortality evidence amongst all cardiovascular medications and statin use in patients with a diagnosis of high cholesterol is possibly the main reason that this diagnosis appears to be protective against death in patients with lung, breast, prostate and bowel cancer.

Lead researcher Dr Lesley-Ann Martin added: “This is hugely significant.”

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