Doctors find link between statins and cancer survival rate

Doctors say they have discovered a link between statins, cholesterol and cancer survival rates, with the research being hailed as

Doctors say they have discovered a link between statins, cholesterol and cancer survival rates, with the research being hailed as major breakthrough.

The British study found that cancer patients who had also been diagnosed with high cholesterol and were taking statins to manage it were half as likely to die than those without the condition.

The findings back up previous research, which found that statins have a protective effect on breast tissue and can help prevent breast cancer from returning.

It is thought this new breakthrough could lead to statins being used as a cancer treatment in future.

The research was presented at the Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology conference in Florence, Italy.

Doctors who worked on the project said they analysed information from 22,677 people suffering from lung, breast, prostate and bowel cancers, taken from a database of nearly one million patients.

After months of work, and adjusting for other factors that might influence survival rates, such as age, gender, ethnicity and other common causes of death, researchers found cancer patients were less likely to die if they had a diagnosis of high cholesterol and were taking statins than if they did not.

A high cholesterol diagnosis was associated with:
* A 47 per cent lower risk of death in prostate cancer patients
* A 43 per cent lower risk in those with breast cancer
* A 30 per cent lower risk in bowel cancer cases
* A 22 per cent lower risk in lung cancer patients.

Around nine out of ten patients with high cholesterol were taking statins.

Lead author of the study Dr Paul Carter, of Aston University Medical School in Birmingham, said: “Our research suggests 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.

“Because we saw the association among all four cancers we studied, we think this effect is caused by medications used for high cholesterol such as statins.”

He said statins may also reduce the chances of dying from other cancers, but further research was needed.

Do you take statins? What do you think about this breakthrough?

  1. Penn Weaver  

    Maybe it is the high cholesterol that is producing the effect – would be hard these days to find someone with high cholesterol who hasn’t been pushed into taking statins … ??

    • Claire Hancock  

      Yep, the same thing occurred to me, Penn. Though it sounds unlikely, I wonder whether the study introduced a control group of people with high cholesterol but no treatment with statins, just to rule that in or out.

  2. Len Robinson  

    I have been taking Statin drugs for the last six years to manage my cholesterol levels. I have done some research on the drug and there are a few side effects. The one that I am concerned about is that the liver can be damaged. I have blood tests every six months or so to keep an eye on my cholesterol levels and also liver function. To date no problems.

  3. James  

    I bet you anything you like that this was sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. People have worked out how bad statins are so now they have to find another “illness” to keep up the sales. Cut the sugar & the low fat diet if you want to sort out your Heath problems

  4. Kutica  

    Long-term statin use caused me to have problems with inflamed and painful Achilles’ tendons. Changed to a statin-free tablet and problem solved.

  5. Cholesterol is required by all body cells to maintain health. A recent nursing educator ( highly experienced cardiac nurse), expressed concerns by cardiac health practitioners that lower and lower cholesterol expectations is putting the myelin sheath ( outer covering of our nerves), at risk, meaning increased levels of MS, perhaps dementia and other relevant conditions. The question is … How low do we go?

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