NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may reduce the risk of lung cancer by about half, according to findings from a study reported this month.
“Our study suggests that statins have a potential role in primary chemoprevention for lung cancer,” state the researchers. “Due to the high prevalence of statin use and grave prognosis of lung cancer, even a modest reduction means a considerable effect on public health.”
There is evidence from animal and test tube studies that statins are capable of blocking the growth of cancer cells, note Dr. Vikas Khurana and colleagues, from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport.
The researchers assessed the anti-lung cancer effect of statins by analyzing 6-year data collected from 483,733 patients enrolled in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System.
The study population included 163,662 statin users and 7,280 patients with lung cancer, the report indicates.
Khurana and colleagues found that subjects who used statins for longer than 6 months were 55 percent less likely to develop lung cancer than those who were never exposed to the drugs.
The apparent protective effect was noted across age and racial groups and was not dependent on smoking status, alcohol use, or the presence of diabetes.
The researchers call for randomized placebo-controlled trials to verify the findings.