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Positive Statin Side Effects - Statins and Your Lung Function

One of the Statin Side Effects Is to Improve Lung Function


Updated October 21, 2008

Updated October 21, 2008
A study published on October 15, 2007 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine has revealed one of the statin side effects that could work in your favor. This study suggests that statins may slow the decline of lung function that can comes with aging, according to researchers at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

Statins are the most commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications on the market. These cholesterol-lowering drugs have been found to lower cholesterol, lower the incidence of death from heart disease, as well as reducing inflammation.

The study was part of the Veterans Administration Normative Age Study, and the researchers followed 803 men, average age around 70 years old, over a 10-year period. Some of these men were smokers, and some of them had inflammatory lung diseases, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Additionally, roughly one-third of the individuals participating in this study were on statin therapy. FEV (forced expiratory volume after one second) and FVC (forced vital capacity) are markers for lung function and were measured at the beginning of the study, then followed to the end of the study to assess lung function.

From this study, researchers found that the participants taking statins who had never smoked had a higher lung function than those not taking statins. Additionally, smokers also received benefit from statin therapy. Lung function was improved in smokers, and especially those who had quit smoking recently or a long time ago. This may suggest that individuals who have recently quit smoking or stopped smoking a long time ago may benefit most from statin therapy.

This study suggests that statins may help reduce the rate of decline that comes with smoking or aging. Statins have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to helping lowering cholesterol and preventing heart attacks in patients who have heart disease. However, it isn’t known if statins are contributing to the improvement in lung function or if something else is occurring. So, don’t run to your healthcare provider anytime soon for a statin for your lungs. Many more studies are needed to assess the effect of statins on lung function. This does clue scientists into the other benefits that statins may hold besides their ability to lower cholesterol.


Alexeeff SE, Litonjua AA, Sparrow D, et al. Statin Use Reduces Decline in Lung Function: VA Normative Aging Study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2007; 176:742-747.

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