Statins could halve chances of returning breast cancer
BREAST cancer survivors could benefit from taking statins, scientists believe, after discovering that lowering cholesterol halves the chance of the disease returning in 10 years.
Scientists have known for some time that the hormone oestrogen helps cancer to spread, which is why women are usually given anti-hormone treatments following chemotherapy and surgery.
But a new study from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) has shown that breast cancers use cholesterol to produce a molecule which has the same impact as oestrogen. The molecule - called 25-HC - acts like a fuel to allow cancer cells to keep growing.
Lab trials showed that blocking the molecule prevents cancer spreading by 50pc - a finding that cancer charities called a "really crucial discovery".
Separate trials showed that women whose genes encouraged the production of the cholesterol molecule were twice as likely to die within 10 years.
The study looked at the most common type of breast cancer, known as 'ER Positive' which affects 80pc of the women diagnosed each year. Those women are at greater risk from oestrogen because their breast cells have more oestrogen receptors, making them particularly sensitive to the hormone.