Statins may reduce the risk of lung cancer even for smokers

New research in the U.S. is indicating that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may protect against the development of lung cancer.

The large population study by researchers at the Louisiana State University and the Overton Brooks Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, looked at data collected over a 6-year period from the Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

The study consisted of 483,733 patients, some with lung cancer and others without (control group); of the total population, 7,280 had lung cancer and 163,662 were receiving statins.

Researchers found that statin use of 6 or more months was associated with a lung cancer risk reduction of 55%, while statin use of more than 6 months showed a decreased risk of lung cancer across all age groups, regardless of race, smoking status, alcohol use, the presence of diabetes or body mass index (BMI).

The researchers say the results suggest that statins have a potential role in primary chemoprevention for lung cancer and reduce the risk of lung cancer by as much as 50%.

Dr. Vikas Khurana from the University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, says evidence from animal and test tube studies show that statins are capable of blocking the growth of cancer cells.

Dr. Khurana, the lead author, says the high prevalence of statin use and the grave prognosis of lung cancer, means even a modest reduction equates to a considerable effect on public health.

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