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May 14, 2005A study of more than 40,000 female veterans in the United States shows that the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins help reduce the risk of breast cancer by more than half.Between October 1998 and June 2004, doctors collected health information from female veterans in the South Central Veterans Affairs Health Care Network. They compared the use of statins between 556 women with a history of breast cancer and 39,865 women with no history of breast cancer. After accounting for other factors known to influence the risk of breast cancer, such as age, smoking, alcohol use, and diabetes, the risk of breast cancer was 51% lower for women who used statins than for women who did not."This is a significant study for people with breast cancer and women at high risk for this disease," said Vikas Khurana, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Louisiana State University Health Science Center at Shreveport and senior author of the study. "The findings indicate that statins may have a role in breast cancer prevention."Examples of statins include lovastatin (Altoprev, Mevacor), simvastatin (Zocor), pravastatin (Pravachol), fluvastatin (Lescol), and atorvastatin (Lipitor).What this means for patientsAlthough this study is promising, more studies are needed to look at the possible protective role of statins in breast cancer. At this time, it is not recommended that women take statins to lower their risk of breast cancer.