A new study out of the U.K. shows a link between the widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins, and improved colorectal cancer survival. Please note that this is an observational study and should be considered preliminary, but the researchers noted that when looking at a group of colon cancer patients, those who were on statins were 29% less likely to die from the disease than those not on the cholesterol medicines.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the largest project looking at the statin link to colon cancer survival to date. During the study nearly 1,650 patients died from colorectal cancers. Patients on statins for more than a year had a death rate 36% lower than the non-statin using group. There was a 21% reduced risk of death in those taking statins from less than a year. Overall, an average of 29% reduction in the risk of death. The research did not identify the way the statins effected the death rate. It is speculated that the drugs, that are designed to reduce plaque build-up in blood vessels, may either prevent the cancers from growing/spreading or may kill the cancer directly.

The researchers were split in what this means for patients. One group of clinicians advocate waiting for additional research, while at least on Doctor involved in the study encourages patients to speak to their doctor about adding statins to their medications.

The best way to reduce your risk of dying from colon cancer is to have regular screening colonoscopies as recommended by your doctor. When found early, colon cancer is 90% curable. It is important to speak to your doctor about your personal risk and then ask to be referred to a doctor at Asheville Gastroenterology Associates.