Statins can lower lung cancer death risk up to 20% if taken 6 months after being diagnosed

Patients with lung cancer who took cholesterol-busting statins for at least a year, raise chances for surviving the disease, specially when taken six months after being diagnosed reducing to nearly 1/5 the risk of death.

Because of their cheap commercial value and known side effects, the study conducted at Queen’s University Belfast explored whether current drugs may be used in new treatments, setting out an investigation whether lung cancer patient user of statins had better cancer outcomes.

Researchers use data from 14,000 newly diagnosed patients with lung cancer from 1998 to 2009 from the English cancer registry.

Records of patients’ prescription from the U.K. Clinical Practice Research Datalink and mortality data up to 2012 from the Office of National Statistics were being compared.

Published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, patients who survived six months after a diagnosis for users of  statins earned a statistically nonsignificant 11% reduction in lung cancer-specific deaths.

Among users of at least 12 prescriptions of statins, a statistically significant 19% reduction in lung cancer-specific deaths were seen.

And users of lipophilic statins like simvastatin, a 19% reduction in lung cancer-specific deaths were observed as well.

Statins users in the year before the onset of a lung cancer diagnosis had a significant 12% reduction in lung cancer-specific deaths.

In this study, the outcomes were the same between non-small cell and small cell lung cancer patients.

Senior lecturer in medical statistics at the Centre for Public Health Dr Chris Cardwell said, “Our study provides some evidence that lung cancer patients who uses statins has a reduction in lung cancer risk of death.  The magnitude of the association was relatively small and, as with all observational studies, there is the possibility of confounding – meaning that simvastatin, a type of statin, users may have differed from simvastatin non-users in other ways that could have protected them from death from cancer, for which we could not correct.”

He added, “However, this finding should be further investigated in observational studies. If replicated, this would provide evidence in favor of conducting a randomized, controlled trial of simvastatin in lung cancer patients. We hope to conduct a similar analysis in a large cohort of lung cancer patients from Northern Ireland.”



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