Statins, the widely used class of drugs for cholesterol management, are now showing promising results in slowing smoking-induced lung damage. In a new study presented at CHEST 2006, the 72nd annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), current and former smokers who used statins had lower lung function decline than those not using statins, regardless of whether patients continued or stopped smoking.
“Until now, no medication has shown to slow smoking-induced lung damage,” said Walid G. Younis, MD, University of Oklahoma Medical Center, Oklahoma City, Okla. “Our study is the first to show that statins may decrease the decline in lung function in smokers and former smokers, and, therefore, prevent millions from developing debilitating diseases that could eventually lead to death.”
“It is conceivable that long-term statin therapy could be used in smokers and former smokers to prevent and slow the progression of lung diseases,” said Younis. “Even though statins may help with lung function, they have no effect on preventing a patient from the major smoking-related killer, which is lung cancer. Therefore, smokers should never lose their incentive to quit smoking.”
Researchers note that it is not known whether decreasing the rate of decline in lung function or whether preventing emphysema, an independent risk factor of lung cancer, could translate into a reduction of lung cancer.