In a new study, researchers found common statins may provide anti-cancer benefits to patients.
The research was conducted by a team at Duke University.
About 40 million adults in the U.S. take a statin to lower their cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Early animal studies that showed statins could spur cancer growth in rodents initially raised concerns.
But results in people from observational studies and randomized controlled trials examining the effect of statins on heart disease have quelled fears.
Researchers have found people taking statins are less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and are living longer after a breast, colorectal, kidney or lung cancer diagnosis than people not on statins.
In this study, the team examined whether statin use affected outcomes in people with colorectal cancer.
They analyzed the medical records of 29,498 veterans who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer at a VA Medical Center from 2001 to 2011.
They found after about five years of follow-up, those taking a statin at the time of their cancer diagnosis were 31% less likely to die from any cause and 38% less likely to die from colorectal cancer than those not taking the medication, even after adjusting for factors such as the tumor’s location and stage.
The findings confirm that statins can have a benefit in overall survival for colorectal cancer patients.
They are similar to other studies in breast, prostate and colorectal cancer that show statin users have better outcomes.
The team also found that statins appeared to better protect against colorectal cancer death than having a heart attack or stroke.
Being on a statin lowered the risk of heart attack by 9% and stroke by 23% compared to the nearly 40% reduction in death from colorectal cancer.
The team intends to analyze their data further to see whether specific statins or statin doses resulted in better outcomes.
Eight statins have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration since 1987.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Chiara Melloni, an associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions conference.
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