Statins may significantly reduce the risk of cancer and cancer-related death in people with heart failure, according to a study in the European Heart Journal.
The study compared 36,176 heart failure patients on statins and 50,926 controls who had heart failure but did not use statins. The patients' mean age was 76.5 years and 47.8 per cent were male. During the median follow-up of 4.1 years, 12.7 per cent were diagnosed with cancer.
Compared with controls and after adjusting for confounders, cancer incidence was 16 per cent lower in heart failure patients who used statins. Compared with short-term statin use (three months to <2 years), cancer incidence was 18 per cent lower in heart failure patients who used statins for four to <6 years and 22 per cent lower in those who took statins for at least six years.
Over 10 years, cancer-related mortality was 3.8 per cent among statin users and 5.2 per cent among controls. After adjusting for confounders, cancer-related mortality was 26 per cent lower among statin users. Compared with short-term statin use, cancer mortality was 33 per cent lower in heart failure patients who used statins for four to six years and 39 per cent lower in those who took statins for at least six years.
Over 10 years, all-cause mortality was 60.5 per cent among statin users and 78.8 per cent among controls. After adjusting for confounders, all-cause mortality was 38 per cent lower among statin users.
In addition to lowering cholesterol, statins reduce levels of proinflammatory cytokines, which contribute to heart failure. "Our study highlights the relationship between heart failure and cancer development and provides important information regarding the possibility of reducing cancer incidence by using statins in these patients," says Dr Kai-Hang Yiu, from the University of Hong Kong, who led the study.