Statins could significantly boost survival rates of patients with the four most common types of cancer, researchers concluded after a 14-year study of one million people.
The huge survey had established strong links between high cholesterol and improved mortality among people with breast, lung, prostate and bowel cancers.
According to scientists at Aston Medical School in Birmingham the connection might be due the ubiquitous use of blood-thinning statin drugs among patients with high cholesterol.
The researchers have now called for urgent research to identify whether the drugs contained an unrecognised protective quality against cancer and, if so, to work out how best to exploit it.
Statins, a group of medicines helped lower the level of low-density lipoprotein, or ''bad cholesterol'', in the blood.
Over 7 million people in the UK were known to take the drugs every day in an effort to protect against conditions such as stroke and coronary heart disease.
In the new study, researchers analysed UK hospital data from January 2000 to March 2013, as also information from the Office for National Statistics.
The study revealed that a diagnosis of high cholesterol was associated with a 22 per cent lower risk of death within five years for patients with lung cancer.
While it did not establish a cause-effect relation, the study found that those taking statin drugs such as Lipitor and Crestor ran:
- a 22 per cent lower risk of dying from lung cancer,
- a 43 per cent lower risk of dying from breast cancer,
- a 47 per cent lower risk of dying from prostate cancer,
- and a 30 per cent lower risk of dying from colon cancer.
"We need to further investigate the reasons for patients with high cholesterol having improved mortality in four of the most common cancers," said senior researcher Dr Rahul Potluri, a clinical lecturer at Aston University School of Medicine in Birmingham, Health Day News reported.