WEDNESDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- A large study of Danish cancer patients suggests that people taking cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins have a lower risk of premature death from cancer.
The research, published Nov. 7 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that statin use at the time of cancer diagnosis reduced the risk of dying from cancer-related causes by up to 15 percent.
"That doesn't sound like that much, but chemotherapy only offers about a 15 percent to 20 percent reduction in the risk of dying," said Dr. Stig Bojesen, an author of the study and staff specialist in the department of clinical biochemistry at Copenhagen University Hospital, in Herlev, Denmark.
Previous studies of statins such as Lipitor and Crestor have not shown that the drugs significantly affect overall cancer risk. But some research has suggested that statins may have a role in treating particular forms of cancer.
Last January, for example, researchers at Columbia University in New York City showed that treating certain breast cancer cells with statins in the laboratory stopped them from spreading, and in some cases even killed the cells. Last year, a study published in the journal Cancer showed that men taking statins may be 30 percent less likely to have prostate cancer recur.
Bojesen said the study results need to be tested further. But for those who are taking statins when they get a diagnosis of cancer, he said, "there is no reason whatsoever to stop taking them." And, he added, "there is a small chance that taking statins for cardiovascular disease may reduce your risk of cancer."
How could cholesterol-lowering statins, one of the most commonly prescribed class of drugs worldwide, help patients more effectively fight cancer?
According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, researchers have found that statins work aga
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