Study: Statins help flu patients survive

Add another potential use for cholesterol-lowering statin drugs: Anti-flu remedy. A large study found that statin patients who were hospitalized with seasonal flu were half as likely to die as those who weren't using the meds. It's just one more wrinkle for statins, which have also been pegged as potential cancer fighters, in addition to their widespread current use as cholesterol-fighters and heart-disease preventers.

The new study results didn't shock researchers, because statins are known to reduce inflammation, and previous trials have indicated that the drugs improve survival in patients with pneumonia and those with bloodstream infections. The inflammation link is important because, as the Associated Press points out, much of the damage that flu causes is from inflammation. Some flu patients suffer from an overwhelming immune response to the virus, causing inflammation that end up doing more harm than good.

But it's too soon to prescribe statins to flu patients. "This early research suggests there may be a role for statins in influenza treatment and it should be studied further," one of the study authors told Reuters. There's a federal study underway to test that use, the AP reports. And the researchers in the newly released study are looking at which of the various statins might work best.

- read the Reuters news
- see the article from AP