Statins could give women better chance of beating cancer by halting growth of tumours, study suggests
- Statins lower cholesterol levels by targeting and blocking an enzyme in the body
- It found those taking the drugs consistently were less likely to die during study
- Study involved 20,000 women with breast cancer, 11,719 with bowel cancer and 6,430 with melanoma at the QIMR Berghofer research institute in Brisbane
Statins could give women a better chance of beating cancer, researchers said yesterday.
They have found that the cholesterol-lowering drugs, which cut their risk of heart attacks and strokes, can also halt the growth of tumours.
The study involved more than 20,000 women with breast cancer, another 11,719 with bowel cancer and 6,430 with melanoma.
All had been prescribed anti-cholesterol medication at least a year before discovering they had cancer.
Those who took the drugs more consistently were less likely to die during the study.
Dr Jia-Li Feng, co-author of the research, said the results, if confirmed, show that statins could be ‘repurposed as a therapy to improve cancer prognosis’.
Statins may have the power to slash ovarian cancer risk, scientists say. The cholesterol-busting pills block an enzyme which has shown to be protective against the disease in low levels
The Australian team examined the cases of women aged 18 to 89 who survived at least a year after diagnosis with cancer.
Their pharmacy records were used to work out how closely they had followed medical advice to take cholesterol-lowering medications.
The less they stuck to taking drugs like statins, the more likely they were to die, with the link the largest for breast and bowel cancer patients.
The study at the QIMR Berghofer research institute in Brisbane also examined which type of cholesterol drugs the women were taking – lipophilic or hydrophilic.
The reduction in the chances of dying from all three types of cancer was higher for women taking lipophilic drugs, which are believed to stop cancer cells growing and dividing, and may also boost the immune system.
The study was published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
Research carried out last year by Queen’s University Belfast found men who took statins were 24 per cent less likely to get an aggressive form of prostate cancer.
Study involved 20,000 women with breast cancer, 11,719 with bowel cancer and 6,430 with melanoma and was carried out at the QIMR Berghofer research institute in Brisbane, Australia
And in 2018 findings from the Danish Cancer Society showed that breast cancer sufferers who took statins could reduce the odds of a tumour in their other breast by 12 per cent.
Experts believe the drugs, which cost only a few pence a day and are taken by around 7.5million patients in the UK, may even cause cancer cells to self-destruct.
The latest findings follow evidence unveiled at the world’s largest cancer conference in 2017 that showed statins could cut the risk of dying from breast cancer.
The study, from scientists at the National Cancer Centre in Beijing, analysed data for almost 200,000 women with breast cancer.
It found those who had taken any kind of statin were 43 per cent less likely to die from the breast cancer within four years than those who had never used the drugs.