Use of statins for a year before a diagnosis of lung cancer is associated with a 12 percent lower risk of cancer-specific mortality, new research suggests.

The study findings are published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

The study authors reviewed British cancer registry data for lung cancer patients diagnosed between 1998 and 2009.

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In 11,051 lung cancer patients, statin use before diagnosis was associated with reduced lung cancer-specific mortality (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 0.88; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.83 to 0.93; P < 0.001).

In 3,638 lung cancer patients who continued to take a statin after diagnosis, statin use after diagnosis showed some association with reduced lung cancer-specific mortality (aHR, 0.89; 95 percent CI, 0.78 to 1.02; P = 0.09); however, association was more marked after 12 prescriptions (aHR, 0.81; 95 percent CI, 0.67 to 0.98; P = 0.03) and with lipophilic statins (aHR, 0.81; 95 percent CI, 0.70 to 0.94; P = 0.01).

RELATED: Pancreatic Cancer Risk Inversely Linked with Statin Use

“Further research is required,” lead author Chris Cardwell, Ph.D., told HealthDay, noting that it would be premature at this point to recommend taking statins to prevent lung cancer mortality.

He also said the study didn’t explore whether the impact of statins might differ between those with a past or current history of smoking and those without. Cardwell is with the Institute of Clinical Sciences Block B and Cancer Epidemiology and Health Services Research Group at Queen’s University in Belfast, U.K.


  1. Cardwell, Chris R., et al. “Statin Use and Survival from Lung Cancer: A Population-Based Cohort Study.” Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0052. [epub ahead of print]. May 2015.