BIG C BUSTER.
Byline: ANDREW GREGORY Health Editor
BREAST cancer patients have been thrown a new lifeline after statins were found to cut the chance of dying from the disease.
Patients taking the cholesterolbusting drugs were found to be 45% less likely to develop the illness, while the mortality rate of sufferers fell by 40%.
Researchers looked at 1.2million women admitted to hospitals across the UK over more than a decade to find why those with high cholesterol were less likely to develop breast cancer. They concluded the "likely" explanation was that they were taking statins.
Lead author Dr Paul Carter, of Aston University in Birmingham, said: "Women with a diagnosis of high cholesterol have strikingly lower rates of breast cancer with improved death rates and survival.
"This gives a strong indication that statins produce this protective effect in breast cancer."
The landmark study followed up on previous work establishing a link between high cholesterol and low incidence of breast cancer. Senior author Dr Rahul Potluri, founder of ACALM Study Unit at Aston Medical School, said: "This is the most conclusive and direct evidence as yet to confirm the link.
"Showing patients with high cholesterol have a lower risk of developing breast cancer and subsequent mortality provides the strongest evidence for a protective effect, which is likely related to statins."
Clinical trials will now follow to determine whether all women should routinely be given statins to protect them from breast cancer.
A quarter of a million patients in Ireland are already prescribed statins to help protect against heart disease.
Nearly 3,000 Irish women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. The results of the study - presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Barcelona - were reached after adjusting for factors including age, gender and common causes of death.