According to the results of a study published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Medicine, incidences of cancer are dramatically reduced when the patient partakes in high-dose lipophilic statin use.
Lipophilic, meaning they are soluble in fat, statins are currently used to lower cholesterol in patients around the world. Examples of name brand drugs that are lipophilic statins include Zocor, Lipitor, Mevacor and Lescol. The new study, however, points to new uses for the drugs.
"This is the first study to suggest a dose-response effect of lipophilic statins on cancer occurrence," said Dr. Louise Pilote of McGill University in Montreal, Canada. "Future studies should provide additional evidence allowing the assessment of long-term effects of statins on cancer risk."
In the study, which was a retrospective observational one, researchers on Dr. Pilote's team observed the correlation between cancer occurrence and lipophilic statin use in more than 30,000 patients. Those patents using high dosages of statin experienced a 25 percent lower risk of being diagnosed with cancer, compared to their non-statin using counterparts.
All told, nearly 1,100 people were hospitalized in Quebec, Canada as a result of a cancer diagnosis.
Anti-cancer effects of statins have been proposed in the past, "although original reports had actually suggested the potential opposite, pro-carcinogenic effects of statins," said Dr. Pilote. "Despite massive amounts of data, the issue remains inconclusive."
In a similar study conducted at Saints Medical Center in Lowell, Massachusetts, researchers found nearly identical results in patients with prostate cancer. In that study, high dose statin use was found to decrease the risk of death from cancer. These results were confirmed by a later study which estimated a 24 percent reduction in risk of prostate cancer resulted from statin use.
A large study of Danish women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer found that simvastatin use resulted in a 30% reduction in the chance of the cancer returning. More on this.