Statin drugs, which have become the world’s No. 1 selling drugs by cutting cholesterol and the risk of heart attacks and stroke, may also slow the lung damage done by smoking, researchers have reported.
Current and former smokers who used statins lost less of their lung function than those who did not, researchers said at a meeting last week of the American College of Chest Physicians.
Researchers at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center studied 182 current smokers and 303 former smokers who were on average in their mid-60s.
They had all undergone at least two pulmonary function tests between 18 and 30 months apart. Of the 485 patients, 319 had obstructive lung disease, 99 had restrictive lung disease and 67 had normal lung function.
And 238 had been taking statin drugs.
Breathing capacity tests showed that patients not taking statins lost more on two measures of lung function -- forced expiratory volume in 1 second, or FEV1, and forced vital capacity or FVC.
Statin patients saw FEV1 fall by 2.5% over the 18- to 30-month period, while those not taking the drugs lost an average of 12.8%. For FVC, statin patients lost 1.3% of capacity compared with 10.3% loss in the others.