Background: A reduction in the availability of cholesterol may limit the cellular proliferation required for cancer growth and metastasis. We tested the hypothesis that statin use begun before a cancer diagnosis is associated with reduced cancer-related mortality.
Methods: We assessed mortality among patients from the entire Danish population who had received a diagnosis of cancer between 1995 and 2007, with follow-up until December 31, 2009. Among patients 40 years of age or older, 18,721 had used statins regularly before the cancer diagnosis and 277,204 had never used statins.
Results: Multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios for statin users, as compared with patients who had never used statins, were 0.85 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.83 to 0.87) for death from any cause and 0.85 (95% CI, 0.82 to 0.87) for death from cancer. Adjusted hazard ratios for death from any cause according to the defined daily statin dose (the assumed average maintenance dose per day) were 0.82 (95% CI, 0.81 to 0.85) for a dose of 0.01 to 0.75 defined daily dose per day, 0.87 (95% CI, 0.83 to 0.89) for 0.76 to 1.50 defined daily dose per day, and 0.87 (95% CI, 0.81 to 0.91) for higher than 1.50 defined daily dose per day; the corresponding hazard ratios for death from cancer were 0.83 (95% CI, 0.81 to 0.86), 0.87 (95% CI, 0.83 to 0.91), and 0.87 (95% CI, 0.81 to 0.92). The reduced cancer-related mortality among statin users as compared with those who had never used statins was observed for each of 13 cancer types.
Conclusions: Statin use in patients with cancer is associated with reduced cancer-related mortality. This suggests a need for trials of statins in patients with cancer.