Cholesterol lowering statins have the potential to significantly reduce mortality and improve survival rates of patients with breast, lung, prostate and bowel cancer, suggests a study involving an Indian-origin researcher.
"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," said Rahul Potluri from Aston University.
‘Patients with cancer who are at high risk or have established cardiovascular disease should be given statins as per current guidelines.’
High cholesterol is strongly associated with obesity, which in turn, is associated with a higher risk of a number of forms of cancer. The 14-year study of one million people has 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.
Previous studies found an association between having high cholesterol and developing breast cancer. Animal studies showed that giving statins for high cholesterol could reduce the risk of breast cancer.
"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," added lead author Paul Carter from Aston University in Birmingham, Britain.
"The results of this study strengthens 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," Potluri noted.
In the new study, the team investigated the association between high cholesterol and mortality with lung, breast, prostate and bowel cancer patients, between 1 January 2000 and 31 March 2013. Out of a total of 9,29,552 patients, 7997 had lung cancer, 5481 had breast cancer, 4629 had prostate cancer and 4570 had bowel cancer.
"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," Potluri concluded. The findings were presented at Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology (FCVB) 2016 in Italy, recently.