London: Statins, the pills taken by millions of people to combat high cholesterol, could more than halve the risk of bowel cancer, say researchers.In a recent study, a team of doctors at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital found that the cholesterol-busting pills, which cost as little as 40p a day, slashed the chances of the disease developing by an average of 57 per cent.And in patients taking higher doses of the cholesterol-busting drugs, or were on them for at least five years, the risk fell by more than 80 per cent.The findings suggest the pills could be a cheap and effective way of easing the cancer burden on the NHS, if future large-scale investigations can confirm the results.The researchers stressed the numbers involved in their study were small but the findings could be important in terms of preventing an often fatal illness.“Statins may have a protective effect against the development of bowel cancer. In our study, they were associated with a significantly reduced incidence of the disease, and greater statin exposure offered more protection,” the Daily Mail quoted the researchers as saying.The study raises the possibility that high cholesterol could be a key factor in the development of the disease and that taking a daily dose of statins may have a powerful preventive effect.Although previous studies have investigated statins` possible protective effects in bowel cancer, the results have been inconclusive.But the latest results, published in the journal BMC Gastroenterology, point to much greater benefits than first thought, with laboratory tests suggesting the pills reduce the formation of polyps, the pre-cancerous growths in the bowel that can develop into tumours.
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