Cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins have been found to cut people's risk of stroke by nearly a third.
A study carried out in France found that those who take either statins or fibrates (five participants took both) had a 30% lower risk.
Statins are the most commonly prescribed group of drugs in the NHS with up to 10 million people in England estimated to be taking them.
They are offered to people in the UK who have a 20% risk of developing cardiovascular disease within 10 years.
But the study, which tracked 7,500 men and women with an average age of 74 over nine years, found no association between use of statins or fibrates and coronary heart disease.
Its authors said the proportion of people taking cholesterol-lowering drugs - especially statins - has increased rapidly in most high-income countries over the past couple of decades.
They suggested that the increase could explain the 13% reduction in the incidence of stroke in the over-65s in France over the past 10 years.
Although in France the overall risk of stroke to the population remains low, the results "could have an important effect on public health in other populations", they said.
Simvastatin and pravastatin were the most commonly-used statins in the study, while most of the fibrate users took fenofibrate.
The research, led by the University of Bordeaux, is published in the BMJ.
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