Statins prevent cancer in transplant patients
Statins prevent cancer in transplant patients

Cholesterolbusting statins may reduce the risk of cancer in heart transplant patients as scientists find a new use for the drugs
A study of transplant recipients in Switzerland has found that those on statins were less likely to develop cancer and less likely to die than those who were not taking the drug
The effect did not depend on the patients cholesterol levels suggesting the drug may have other effects that have not been discovered until now
The findings were presented at the Heart Failure Congress a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Belgrade Serbia
It comes after researchers said everyone over the age of 50 should be prescribed statins because they reduced the risk of a heart attack or stroke even in those at a relatively low risk
Cancer is the leading cause of death after heart transplantation in those who survive the initial operation and recovery
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The drugs to surpress the immune system and prevent donor organs from being rejected are known to increase the risk of cancer
The study included all 255 patients who underwent heart transplantation at the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland between 1985 and 2007 and were alive after the first year
Four in ten were later diagnosed with cancer however those on a statin were 65 per cent less likely to develop cancer
Eight years after transplantation more than a third of people who were not taking statins had developed cancer compared with 13 per cent of those taking the drugs
The benefit persisted longterm as 42 per cent of those not on statins had cancer 12 years after their transplant compared with 22 per cent of those taking them
Guidelines from the International Society for Heart amp Lung Transplantation recommend giving a statin to patients after heart transplantation to reduce narrowing of the arteries
Lead author Dr Frank Enseleit deputy director of heart failure and transplantation at University Hospital Zurich said patients can safely begin statin therapy six months after transplantation and they should take the drug for the rest of their lives
quotWe have shown that statin therapy prevents cancer in heart transplant recipients and it is known that statins also prevent graft atherosclerosisquot he said quotWe have to conclude that it should be a lifelong therapy in heart transplant recipientsquot

Date : 22 May, 2012
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