Statins appear to slow decline in lung function in the elderly— even in those who smoke, according to the second issue for October of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The study, led by Joel Schwartz, PhD, professor of environmental epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, found that subjects taking statins experienced a markedly slower annual decline in lung function. In FEV1, statin users lost 10.9 ml on average, whereas nonusers lost an average of 23.9 ml each year—more than twice that of the statin group. Similarly, statin users lost an average of 14 ml a year in FVC, whereas nonusers lost an average of 36.2 ml.

The subjects were divided into four smoking groups: never-smokers, long-ago quitters, recent quitters and current smokers. Predictably, the recent quitters and never-were smokers benefited the most from statin use.

The study implied that the benefits of statins are a result of their ability to reduce inflammation in the lung due to smoking or injury, as well as statins’ ability to bring down serum levels of C-reactive protein, a cause of inflammation, and by protecting against oxidative damage.

To read the abstract, click here.