Statins cut risk of bowel cancer Danger halved by cholesterolbusting pills
Statins 'cut risk of bowel cancer': Danger 'halved' by cholesterol-busting pills

Pills taken by up to seven million Britons to combat high cholesterol could more than halve the risk of bowel cancer according to researchers
Statins which cost as little as 40p a day slashed the chances of the disease developing by an average of 57 per cent
And in patients taking higher doses of the cholesterolbusting drugs or were on them for at least five years the risk fell by more than 80 per cent

The findings by a team of doctors at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital suggest the pills could be a cheap and effective way of easing the cancer burden on the NHS if future largescale investigations can confirm the results
Researchers stressed the numbers involved in their study were small but the findings could be important in terms of preventing an often fatal illness
More than 37500 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year

It has a high mortality rate killing around 16000 a year often because many victims ignore early warning signs and seek medical help only once the cancer has had a chance to advance
The researchers said Statins may have a protective effect against the development of bowel cancer
In our study they were associated with a significantly reduced incidence of the disease and greater statin exposure offered more protection
The study raises the possibility that high cholesterol could be a key factor in the development of the disease and that taking a daily dose of statins may have a powerful preventive effect

Diets high in fat and red meat as well as lack of exercise are thought to be among the main risk factors
Although previous studies have investigated statins possible protective effects in bowel cancer the results have been inconclusive
But the latest results published in the journal BMC Gastroenterology point to much greater benefits than first thought with laboratory tests suggesting the pills reduce the formation of polyps the precancerous growths in the bowel that can develop into tumours
Dr Kat Arney of Cancer Research UK said the study provides another piece of evidence to add to the pile
But she added that there is still no definitive answer on whether the drugs have a significant effect on reducing cancer risk
To examine the effect on bowel cancer the Norwich team recruited 101 cancer patients and another 132 healthy adults They compared statin use among the two groups to see how it matched up with cancer diagnoses
The results showed that patients who had taken statins at any time in the past were 57 per cent less likely to get a tumour

The extent of the protection depended on how long they had been on the tablets and what dose they took with those prescribed statins for under two years a third less likely to get bowel cancer than nonstatin users
But patients on them for five years or more were 82 per cent less likely to develop tumours
While the standard daily dose of 40 milligrams halved cancer risk higher doses slashed it by 80 per cent
British cancer experts said last night the findings add to the evidence that statins may have a protective role and called for larger studies to investigate the possible health benefits
Mark Flannagan chief executive of the charity Beating Bowel Cancer said The jury is still out
In recent years there has been mounting interest in statins capacity to protect against other forms of cancer as well as heart disease
Although the drugs are generally thought to be effective and safe they can cause some sideeffects ranging from mild symptoms such as headaches pins and needles and nausea to a rare condition called rhabdomyolysis in which muscle cells break down the result of which can cause kidney damage

Date : 12 May, 2012
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