Statins, already used to treat high cholesterol in patients, may also dramatically reduce the risk of death in patients with breast cancer. A new study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago this week, has found that the commonly used drug may cut the death rate by up to 38 percent.
The work has been carried out by scientists in China, and is a meta-analysis of seven other studies, coming to the conclusion that using lipophilic statins seemed to offer a protection to people suffering from breast cancer. It comes after many other studies have observed this link before, and has prompted fresh calls for clinical trials to investigate whether or not they could be used to improve the rates of breast cancer survival.
The analysis found that taking the statins after being diagnosed with breast cancer cut the risk of death from cancer and all other causes of death by an impressive 38 percent. Interestingly, however, this was only true for those who were taking them for under four years. After this cut-off period, the protective ability of the drug fell, and cut the death rate by a much lower 16 percent.
The results still do not prove anything and will need a full clinical trial to confirm, but they are certainly intriguing. The effect is only seen with lipophilic statins, and as stated only really for patients taking them for under four years, but they do show some promise.
This meta-analysis of papers looking into how statins may help people with breast cancer is in some way simply backing up what was already know. As far back as 2014, some professionals were calling for clinical trials to be conducted into this link, and yet little has moved forward since. Some researchers suggest that it has come to a point where they need to be tested to see if they truly can help reduce the death rate of patients diagnosed with breast cancer, or try to find another drug which may also work.
The fact that statins are already an FDA-approved drug should mean that it would be a much quicker process if it was ever decided to trial using statins to treat breast cancer, as they have already been proven to safe for human use, though perhaps not in the way they may be utilized here.