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Study: Cancer Mortality Reduced by Regular Statin Use Before Diagnosis

Death rates cut by up to 15% (Nov. 8)

In a population-based Danish registry study, statin use before a diagnosis of cancer reduced cancer-related mortality by 15% across a broad range of malignancies. The new findings were reported in the November 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers set out to test the hypothesis that a reduction in the availability of cholesterol resulting from statin therapy may limit the cellular proliferation required for cancer growth and metastasis, resulting in reduced cancer-related mortality. They assessed mortality among patients from the entire Danish population who had received a diagnosis of cancer between 1995 and 2007, with follow-up until December 31, 2009. Among patients aged 40 years or older, 18,721 had used statins regularly before the cancer diagnosis, and 277,204 had never used statins.

The hazard ratios for statin users, compared with nonusers, were 0.85 for death from any cause and 0.85 for death from cancer. Adjusted hazard ratios for death from any cause according to the defined daily statin dose (the assumed average maintenance dose per day) were 0.82 for a dose of 0.01 to 0.75, 0.87 for a dose of 0.76 to 1.50, and 0.87 for a dose higher than 1.50. The corresponding hazard ratios for death from cancer were 0.83, 0.87, and 0.87. The reduction in cancer-related mortality among statin users was noted for 13 cancer types.

"In conclusion, among patients with cancer, we observed an association between statin use at the time of diagnosis and a reduced risk of cancer-related mortality, with a reduction of up to 15%," the authors wrote. "Prospective evaluation of the hypothesis that statin use prolongs the survival of patients with cancer is needed."

Source: New England Journal of Medicine; November 8, 2012.

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