Background: Statins are commonly used cholesterol-lowering agents that are noted to suppress tumor cell growth in several in vitro and animal models.
Methods: We studied the association of lung cancer and the use of statins in patients enrolled in the Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System. A retrospective case-control study nested in a cohort study was conducted using prospectively collected data from the Veterans Integrated Service Networks 16 VA database from 1998 to 2004. We analyzed data on 483,733 patients from eight states located in south central United States. The primary variables of interest were lung cancer and the use of statins prior to the diagnosis of lung cancer. Multiple logistic regression analysis was done to adjust for covariates including age, sex, body mass index, smoking, diabetes, and race. Statistical software was used for statistical computing.
Results: Of the 483,733 patients in the study, 163,662 patients (33.8%) were receiving statins and 7,280 patients (1.5%) had a primary diagnosis of lung cancer. Statin use > 6 months was associated with a risk reduction of lung cancer of 55% (adjusted odds ratio, 0.45; 95% confidence interval, 0.42 to 0.48; p < 0.01). Furthermore, the protective effect of statin was seen across different age and racial groups and was irrespective of the presence of diabetes, smoking, or alcohol use.
Conclusions: Statins appear to be protective against the development of lung cancer, and further studies need to be done to define the clinical utility of statins as chemo protective agents.