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Statins 'could halve cancer risk'
Drugs taken to combat high cholesterol could more than halve the risk of bowel cancer, research suggests.
Statins have been found to reduce the chances of the disease developing by an average of 57%, in a study carried out a Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
The risk of bowel cancer fell by more than 80% for patients taking higher doses of the drug and those who had taken them for at least five years.
The research, which is published in the journal BMC Gastroenterology, looked at statin use in more than 100 patients with bowel cancer and 132 healthy adults. It found that patients who had taken the drugs previously were 57% less likely to develop a tumour.
The researchers said: "Statins may have a protective effect against the development of colorectal cancer. Our case-control study shows that statin use was associated with a lower incidence of colorectal cancer and this effect was associated with a significant dose and duration response."
The study follows a UK trial which is investigating whether a curry ingredient can improve the treatment of patients with advanced bowel cancer.
Scientists are to supplement standard chemotherapy with pills containing curcumin, a compound found in the yellow curry spice turmeric.
Laboratory tests have suggested that curcumin can boost the ability of chemotherapy drugs to kill bowel cancer cells.
The compound is known to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and also acts as an antioxidant. Some studies have indicated it may slow the spread of cancer, improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and protect healthy cells from the effects of radiotherapy.
The two-year trial, conducted by scientists from Cancer Research UK and the University of Leicester, aims to recruit about 40 patients with bowel cancer that has spread to the liver.