New research suggests lung cancer outcomes could be improved through statin use.

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland found lung cancer patients who used statins within a year of diagnosis had a reduced risk of death from the disease, the American Association for Cancer Research reported.

To make their finding, the research team looked at data on about 14,000 patients who were newly diagnosed with lung cancer between the years of 1998 and 2009 and were a part of the English cancer registry. They found among patients who survived for at least six months following the diagnosis, those who used statins had a statistically nonsignificant 11 percent reduction in death from the cancer. In patients who used at least 12 prescriptions of statins or lipophilic statins such as simvastatin, there proved to be a statistically significant 19 percent reduction in lung cancer deaths.

In all patients who used statins in the year leading up to a lung cancer diagnosis, there was a statistically significant 12 percent reduction in lung cancer deaths. There was no difference between on-small cell lung cancer patients and small cell lung cancer patients in this study.

"This finding is worthy of further investigation in observational studies. If replicated in further observational studies, this would provide evidence in favor of conducting a randomized, controlled trial of simvastatin in lung cancer patients. We hope to conduct a similar analysis in a large cohort of lung cancer patients from Northern Ireland," said Chris Cardwell, a senior lecturer in medical statistics at the Centre for Public Health at Queen's University Belfast.

The findings were published in a recent edition of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.