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Medications that lower cholesterol also may help prevent breast cancer in older women, the results of a small study suggest. In the past, cholesterol-lowering drugs had been shown in some studies to be effective and in others to be ineffective in reducing the overall cancer risk. ?Right now the jury is still out on the relationship between statins and lipid lowering and cancer,? said study author Jane Cauley, PhD. (Her group?s findings were published in the Journal of Women?s Health, October 2003.)
Focusing on breast cancer, Dr. Cauley?s group followed up on a large British study that had found a link between overall cancer risk and statins. This study was among the first to look solely at the connection between lipid-lowering medications and breast cancer. For 7 years, the researchers tracked 7528 white women over the age of 65 who had been enrolled in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures.
Of the 6952 women who reported no use of lipid-lowering drugs, 234 developed breast cancer. Among the 284 participants who used statins, 6 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, and of the 292 who used nonstatin lipid-lowering drugs, 4 cases were identified. The results indicated that women who took any lipid-lowering medication had a 68% reduced risk of developing breast cancer, compared with women who did not use any of these drugs.