A new international study says that statins could reduce cancer mortality rates. A high-cholesterol diagnosis is associated with improved survival rates and reduced mortality in the four most common cancers, according to research presented on the 8th of July in an Italian conference on Cardiovascular Biology.
The 14-year study of nearly one million patients revealed that a high cholesterol diagnosis could be associated with lower risk of dying from lung, bowel, prostate or breast cancer.
The existence of an association between high cholesterol and obesity, as risk factors for cancer, has always been regarded with excitement by researchers and the public. Study author Dr Paul Carter from Aston University, in Birmingham, said that now, the idea that if high levels of cholesterol can cause cancer, cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins may reduce that risk.
He went on to say that there was a previous link between high cholesterol and breast cancer, exhibited by two animal studies. The conclusions were that prescribing statins for high cholesterol reduce the risk of breast cancer.
The current study investigates the association between mortality in patients with common cancers and high cholesterol. Patients who were hospitalized in the UK with prostate, bowel, lung or breast cancer between 2000 and 2013 were recruited for this study, and national statistics were put together.
Findings were surprising: cancer was less likely to lead to death if they had a diagnosis of high cholesterol, than if they did not. A diagnosis of high cholesterol was linked to a 22% lower risk of death in lung cancer, 47% lower risk of death in prostate cancer, 30% lower risk of death in bowel cancer and 43% lower risk of death in breast cancer.
Carter also said that the study suggested that something about having high cholesterol levels , improves survival to a great extent, which surprised experts. They believe that there is a strong possibility that statins produce that effect.
Statins are commonly used for lowering cholesterol along with other cardiovascular medication such as Aspirin, or blood pressure drugs. So far, it’s unknown whether statins have this effect on their own, or in combination with other drugs.
Further studies have to be conducted to explore this claim that statins could reduce cancer mortality rates.