Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Taking aspirin, statins and the drug metformin together reduces the risk for lung cancer by 17%, a study published Thursday by the Journal of Thoracic Oncology found.
The drugs, taken in combination, also lower the risk for dying from the disease by 17%, the data showed.
"When these cardiovascular drugs were used in combination, their protective associations with lung cancer risk and related mortality were augmented and the magnitude of effect increased with increasing duration of medication use," Dr. Dong Wook Shin, of the Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, said in a statement.
The findings are based on an analysis of data from the Korean National Health Insurance Services, a universal healthcare system that covers the country's entire population of 52 million.
Research indicates aspirin and metformin both slow the growth of cancer cells in the lungs.
Up to 10 million people globally take daily aspirin to reduce their risk for heart attack, while up to 35 million people use statins to control cholesterol. Additionally, more than 120 million people take metformin to control diabetes.
In the United States, where guidelines regarding daily aspirin use recently changed, as many as 10 million people continue to use the over-the-counter drug.
Meanwhile, metformin is the fourth most-commonly prescribed medication nationally, with 78 million prescriptions written annually, while more than 35 million Americans use statins, research suggests.
For this study, Shin and his colleagues examined 676,520 Koreans from the Korean National Health Insurance Services database, following patients for 10 years, between January 2004 and December 2013.
During 2012-2013 -- the most recent period in the study -- 3.4% of study participants -- or 23,163 -- were taking all three medications, the data showed.
"The duration of combined use, the more protective the [drugs are]," Shin said.