Statins and Breast Cancer: What's the Link?

The study used a large database of 1,220,024 women to analyze those with, and those without, high cholesterol
The study used a large database of 1,220,024 women to analyze those with, and those without, high cholesterol

At the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2017 in Barcelona, Spain, researchers presented that the use of statins was associated with lower rates of breast cancer and mortality. 

Findings from the 14-year study in over 1 million people confirmed the relationship between high cholesterol and breast cancer. Previously, Dr. Rahul Potluri and colleagues had found a link between high cholesterol and breast cancer incidence so they then designed a study to follow these patients longitudinally. 

Dr. Potluri stated, "Showing that patients with high cholesterol have a lower risk of developing breast cancer and subsequent mortality in a longitudinal study like this provides the strongest evidence for a protective effect, which is likely related to statins." 

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For the current study, women aged ≥40 years with and without a diagnosis of high cholesterol were compared to those without high cholesterol for the development of breast cancer and subsequent mortality. Patient data of females with high cholesterol admitted to U.K. hospital were obtained from the Algorithm for Comorbidities, Associations, Length of stay and Mortality (ACALM) database. Of the total 1,220,024 patients from ACALM, women with high cholesterol aged ≥40 years (n=16,043) were 45% less likely to develop breast cancer vs. an age-matched group without high cholesterol.  After adjusting for confounders such as age, gender, ethnicity, and the top 10 causes of mortality in the U.K, the reduction in mortality risk was 40% among women who had high cholesterol vs. those that did not.

Lead author Dr. Paul Carter added, "Building on previous research by us and other groups, including animal studies in which statins reduced the risk of breast cancer, this gives a strong indication that statins produce this protective effect in breast cancer."

Researchers concluded that the use of statins is the likely cause of this diagnosis appearing to be beneficial against breast cancer development and subsequent death. In general, patients with breast cancer who have high cholesterol, have a high risk of cardiovascular disease, or those with established cardiovascular disease should be administered statins as per current guidelines.

For more information visit escardio.org.