Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Lung Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Cholesterol Drugs Fight Lung Cancer

Study: Smokers Taking Statin Drugs Get 55% Less Lung Cancer
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 7, 2007 -- People who take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs for more than six months -- even smokers -- cut their lung cancer risk by 55%, a Veterans Administration study suggests.

Taking the drugs for four or more years cut lung cancer risk by 77%.

"The data obtained after six months of statin use clearly shows a decreasing risk for lung cancer with increasing duration of statin use," report Vikas Khurana, MD, of the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport, La., and colleagues.

The findings, first reported in 2005, come from an analysis of nearly half a million patient records collected from 1998 to 2004 in eight southern states. The updated report appears in the May issue of the journal Chest.

Examples of statins include Zocor, Lipitor, Pravachol, Crestor, Lescol, and Mevacor. This isn't the first study to suggest that these drugs help prevent cancer. Studies have suggested that statins may cut a person's risk of many cancers, including breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, brain cancer, kidney cancer, and leukemia, the researchers note.

Though this research strongly suggests that the statin drugs help prevent cancer, they do not prove that taking one of these drugs will reduce a person's cancer risk. Even so, the lung cancer data are compelling.

"The protective effect of statin [use] was seen across different age and racial groups and was irrespective of the presence of diabetes, smoking, or alcohol use," Khurana and colleagues note.

While statin drugs reduced lung cancer risk, they did not eliminate it. Of the 7,280 patients who got lung cancer, 1,994 -- 27.4% -- were taking statins.

"Due to the high prevalence of statin use and the grave prognosis of lung cancer, even a modest risk reduction means a considerable effect on public health," Khurana and colleagues suggest.

Today on WebMD

lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
Using GPS to Detect Lung Cancer
VIDEO
mans hand putting out cigarette
Article
 
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
FEATURE
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
SLIDESHOW
 
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
VIDEO
 
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
VIDEO
Pets Improve Your Health
SLIDESHOW
 
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW
Lung Cancer Surgery Options
VIDEO
 

WebMD Special Sections