Cholesterol is a thick, fat-like substance that naturally appears all around your body. It is necessary for daily bodily functions such as the digestion of fat and the production of Vitamin D and various hormones. However, if there is too much cholesterol in your bloodstream, it may clog and cause a buildup, called plaque, in your blood vessels. This cholesterol is also known as “bad cholesterol”, or in healthcare fields, Low Density Level Cholesterol. A common drug given to lower “bad cholesterol” is a statin, a relatively safe drug that interferes with cholesterol production in the liver, boosts “good cholesterol”, and lowers “bad cholesterol.” Side effects of statins are common if the consumer uses it with other drugs, is pregnant, or has liver disease.
As it turns out, statins may have other therapeutic uses, namely in preventing lung cancer.
This discovery is a significant breakthrough in cancer research. Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States, taking the lives of 150,000 Americans each year. Traditional treatments include surgery and chemotherapy, but results are often grim because lung cancer cells are known to quickly spread throughout the body. Statins may prevent lung cancer by repressing cancer cell growth and expansion while promoting cancerous cell death.
Image Source: Science Photo Library-NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE
The correlation between lung cancer and statins was observed in a study led by Chris Cardwell and published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Cardwell studied almost 14,000 lung cancer patients and their prescription records. He discovered that patients who regularly used statins a year before diagnosis of lung cancer were less prone to death from the disease. However, there are some flaws in the study that may need further exploration. There are many external factors to be considered, such as smoking habits and pollution factors. For now, there is not enough direct correlation of the two to claim that statins definitely prevent lung cancer, so further research will be required.
However, cancer societies are still optimistic about this discovery. If statins are proven to prevent death from lung cancer, researchers will look into the use of statins to help prevent cancer from forming in the first place, and the results may be very promising indeed.
Feature Image Source: Morgan