Can Cholesterol Drugs Lower Your Cancer Risk?

By Amir Khan on November 9, 2012 3:55 PM EST

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Cholesterol medications, known as statins, are great for getting lowering your cholesterol, but according to a new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, cholesterol medication can also lower your risk for cancer. What's more, the cholesterol drugs can also make cancer therapies more effective. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Cholesterol medications, known as statins, are great for getting lowering your cholesterol, but according to a new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, cholesterol medication can also lower your risk for cancer. What's more, the cholesterol drugs can also make cancer therapies more effective.

"Regular statin use before and after a diagnosis of cancer could theoretically reduce cancer-related mortality," Sune F. Nielsen, study author and researcher at the University of Copenhagen, wrote in the study.

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Researchers followed all cancer patients in Denmark who were diagnosed with the disease between 1997 and 2005. They found that those who took cholesterol-lowering drugs were less likely to die from their disease than people who didn't take the drugs. People who took the cholesterol lowering drugs had up to a 15 percent lower risk.

However, researchers cautioned that the research is still very early, and more research needs to be done.

"Additional research will be needed to clarify if and how statins might influence survival in cancer patients," Eric J. Jacobs, with the American Cancer Society, told WebMD.

But while there is little evidence in the past that cholesterol medications lower cancer risk, Neil E. Caporaso, with the National Cancer Institute, said the theory is worth fleshing out.

"If statins do influence cancer survival it is certainly worth verifying because this could impact millions of cancer patients," he said.

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