The Effect of Statins on Cancer-Related Mortality

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD


February 19, 2013

Statin Use and Reduced Cancer-Related Mortality

Nielsen SF, Nordestgaard BG, Bojesen SE
N Engl J Med. 2012;367:1792-1802


Does statin use in patients with cancer decrease the risk of dying from cancer? To examine this intriguing hypothesis, the authors examined the outcome in Danish cancer patients who either were (n = 18,721) or were not (n = 277,204) receiving statins. With follow-up extending up to 15 years, statin use reduced the cause of death from cancer by about 15%, with results that were independent of the dose of statins (P < .001). Similar results were observed in various subgroups of the study population.


This record-linkage study was based on data from the entire Danish population. Statins had been prescribed for about 6%-7% of the population, and this subgroup experienced a significant reduction in cancer deaths. The results are biologically plausible because statins reduce cholesterol, which could diminish the growth of cancer cells. The results need to be confirmed by a clinical trial comparing the use or nonuse of statins in patients with cancer.