Study: Statins linked to lower cancer deaths
Those who used cholesterol-lowering drugs originally had lower cancer risk
A study conducted in Denmark found an association between the use of statins and a decreased risk of death from cancer or all-cause mortality. The study enrolled all patients with cancer in Denmark from 1995 to 2007. Researchers then compared mortality rates among those who were taking statins at the time of the cancer diagnosis to those who were not taking statins.
Lipitor is among the most common of commercially available statins, intended to lower cholesterol levels.
Statin users in Denmark had a 15 percent reduction in the risk of cancer mortality compared with those who had not used the drugs.
According to Stig Bojesen, MD, PhD, of the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, the study revealed that statin users had a similar reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality. Reporting in the Nov. 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Bojesen and colleagues suggest "a need for trials of statins in patients with cancer."
Bojesen and his colleagues noted that despite the fact that trials of the drugs to reduce cardiovascular disease have not shown any reduction either in cancer incidence or mortality, there is evidence that the biochemical pathways involved in cancer growth and spread can be affected by statins.
The databases included the study of statin prescriptions, cancer diagnoses and mortality.
All told, among cancer patients 40 and older, 18,721 had used statins regularly before the diagnosis and 277,204 had never been given the drugs, they reported.
During 1,072,503 person-years of follow-up, 162,067 patients died of cancer, 14,489 of cardiovascular causes, and 19,038 of other causes.
Overall the analysis showed that:
-- The cumulative incidence of death from cancer, as a function of follow-up time, was significantly lower among statin users than among patients who had never used statins, with a log-rank P<0.001.
-- The multivariable hazard ratio was 0.85, with a 95 percent confidence interval from 0.82 to 0.87.
-- The cumulative incidence of death from any cause was also lower, with a log-rank P<0.001.
-- The multivariable hazard ratio was 0.85, with 95 percent confidence interval from 0.83 to 0.87.
However, Bojesen cautioned that among other things, the study was based on the mostly white population of Denmark, but may not apply more widely.
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