21. May 2012 11:23
Statins conventionally used to lower levels of cholesterol may reduce the risk of cancer in patients who have undergone a heart transplant, new research claims.
A Swiss study found patients taking statins were less likely to develop cancer and avoid death compared to those in the placebo group.
Lead author Dr Frank Enseleit said that statins should now be used as a “lifelong therapy in heart transplant recipients”.
The study included 255 patients who were alive a year after a heart transplant at the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland between 1985 and 2007.
Around 40% of participants were later diagnosed with cancer. However, the study found that 65% of individuals were less likely to develop cancer when using statins.
Eight years after a heart transplant, more than a third of people who were not included in the statin group had developed cancer compared with around 13% of those taking the drugs.
Long-term benefits were also noted during the study. More than 40% of patients not on statins had cancer 12 years after their transplantation, compared with more than a fifth of those receiving the treatments.
“We have shown that statin therapy prevents cancer in heart transplant recipients and it is known that statins also prevent graft atherosclerosis,” said Dr Enseleit.