Cancer – Millions of people around the world take statins every day to lower their cholesterol. The funds continuously reveal positive side effects. Current: Taking this medication lowers the risk of late heart damage from cancer chemotherapy by 55 percent.
Husam Abdel-Qadir of Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Canada and his co-authors have published their observational study in the Journal of the American Heart Association (AHA). They had evaluated Canadian health care databases.
It was about the risk of women developing severe chronic heart failure after chemotherapy with common anthracycline drugs or the monoclonal HER2 antibody trastuzumab. Anthracyclines (doxorubicin, for example) are used in oncology for the treatment of a whole range of tumor diseases and blood cancer. The monoclonal antibody trastuzumab, on the other hand, revolutionized the treatment of so-called HER2-positive breast cancer more than a decade ago.
“All women whose data they used for their analysis were over 66 years old and initially had no heart failure. They all suffered from early forms of breast cancer and were treated with anthracyclines or trastuzumab chemotherapy between 2007 and 2017,” wrote the German Doctors newspaper about the study. For the patients, who were on average 70 years old, the question was how often they had to be admitted to hospital within five years after one of the two forms of therapy because of chronic heart failure.
The researchers assigned a patient who was not being treated with statins as a “control” to every woman who took statins to lower cholesterol. There were 666 couples of women who received anthracycline therapy and 390 couples who received trastuzumab therapy.
In the group of women on anthracycline therapy, there were a total of 43 hospitalizations for heart failure, in the trastuzumab group there were 27. A certain risk of cardiac muscle damage has also been proven as a long-term side effect with trastuzumab.
The risk of cardiac insufficiency hospitalization within five years for women who had been treated with anthracycline chemotherapy for their breast cancer and had also taken a statin was 1.2 percent. If patients on anthracycline therapy had not received a cholesterol lowering drug, the risk was 2.9 percent. Taking a statin had an additional 55 percent protective effect against heart failure. That was statistically significant.
With trastuzumab and a statin, the frequency of hospitalization within five years due to cardiac insufficiency was 2.7 percent, without statin it was 3.7 percent. This difference was not statistically significant because of the low number of test subjects.
Against embolism and skin cancer
The millions of uses of these drugs, for example atorvastatin or simvastatin, also brought other effects to light. It was discovered that the statins are also anti-inflammatory.
In November 2012, a study comparing 18,721 Danes who had used these drugs before they were diagnosed with cancer and 277,204 people who were not taking cholesterol-lowering drugs showed that statin users had an overall mortality rate of 18 percent and cancer mortality rates was 17 percent lower.
Scientists from the Clinical Department of Hematology and Hemostaseology at the University Clinic for Internal Medicine I at the Vienna General Hospital (MedUni Vienna) had previously proven that cancer patients who regularly take statins have an almost 60 percent lower risk of thrombosis and embolism. Cancer patients are very often affected by embolism.
According to Viennese scientists and a study from 2016, the cholesterol-lowering drugs also have a toxic effect on melanoma cells.