There are few things better than discovering something you’re already doing to boost your health is even more beneficial than you originally thought. According to new research, anyone taking statins for their heart health may also be able to count on it reducing their risk of developing cancer.
The study published in European Heart Journal is the latest and largest investigation into the connection between heart disease and cancer. In order to get a better understanding of that link, researchers tracked the medical records of more than 87,000 heart failure patients between 2003 and 2018.
Those who took statins showed a 16 percent reduced risk of developing cancer compared to those going without the medication. The cancer risk shrank even more as the patients continued to take statins, with an 18 percent reduction after four years and 22 percent reduction after six years.
Of the patients taking statins who did develop cancer, their risk of dying from it was lowered by 26 percent and continued to reduce by 33 and 39 percent over the next four to six years. Even more impressive, the researchers found an association between statin use and a 38 percent reduction in deaths from any cause.
“Our findings should raise doctors’ awareness of the increasing cancer incidence among heart failure patients and encourage them to pay extra attention to non-cardiovascular-related outcomes,” lead study author Kai-Hang Yiu, PhD, said in a press release. “Moreover, our study highlights the relationship between heart failure and cancer development, and provides important information regarding the possibility of reducing cancer incidence and related deaths by using statins in these patients.”
More research needs to be done to uncover exactly why statins seem to have this effect on the risk of cancer, but it’s certainly a promising start. Of course, everyone is different and you should always talk with your doctor about the best treatment options. However, if you already happen to be taking this medicine, you might be able to rest a little easier knowing it’s likely protecting you in more ways than one!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.