People taking statin drugs have low levels of cholesterol and have less chances of dying from cancer as compared to those who do not take statins.
A recent research conducted by Danish scientists observed that use of statins was associated with decreased risk of dying from cancer. The study was published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.
AdvertisementHowever, the study did not evaluate any connection between statin intake and probability of developing of cancer.
The scientists analyzed the national database of Denmark for statin use, diagnosis of cancer and deaths in the whole of Danish population. They observed 295,925 patients aged 40 years or above, who had received diagnosis of cancer between 1995 to 2007. Around 18,721 patients used statins regularly while 277,204 patients never used statins.
The researchers noticed 15 percent reduction in the deaths caused by cancer in those who took statins regularly. Overall reduction in deaths occurring due to other cause was also noted.
Eric Jacobs, PhD, American Cancer Society Strategic Director of Pharmacoepidemiology, said that the study is quite exciting but it does not implies that people with cancer should start taking statins. He said that there might be other factors responsible for lowering death rates; for example, people taking statins may also be taking aspirin. Aspirin, as we know, is concerned with improved survival of cancer patients.
Cholesterol is essential for the growth of cells; the researchers believed that reduction in the cholesterol levels may have a positive effect on cancer by reducing the growth of cancerous cells.
The scientist said, "Because all of the participants in the Danish study already had cancer, this study did not address the question of whether statin use can help prevent cancer. However, strong evidence from both randomized trials and observational studies indicate that statin use does not have important effects, either good or bad, on overall cancer risk."
He was of the opinion, "Additional research will be needed to clarify if and how statins might influence survival in cancer patients."
Statin Use and Reduced Cancer-Related Mortality; Sune Nielsen et al; N Engl J Med 2012; 367:1792-1802