October 01, 2019
1 min read

Statins reduce liver cancer risk in patients with chronic HBV

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Statin therapy correlated with a reduced risk for hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic hepatitis B, according to results published in Hepatology.

“Recently, there has been emerging interest in the potential therapeutic application of statins as anticancer agents based on preclinical evidence,” Myung Ji Goh, MD, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, South Korea, and colleagues wrote. “The present study demonstrates an association between statin use and reduced risk of HCC development, and provides strong support to the hypothesis that statins can be chemo-preventive agents for the prevention of HCC development in patients with chronic HBV infection.”

The study comprised 713 patients on statin therapy and 7,000 patients not on statin therapy, all of whom had chronic HBV. Patients on statin therapy were older and were less likely to have cirrhosis or elevated HBV DNA levels compared with those not on statin therapy but had higher rates of diabetes and hypertension.

During a median follow-up of 7.2 years, 672 patients not on statin therapy developed HCC compared with 30 patients on statin therapy (P < .001). The 5-year cumulative incidence rates of HCC were 3.3% among patients on statin therapy and 7.9% among those not on statin therapy.

Multivariate analysis showed that statin use correlated independently with a lower risk for HCC development (HR = 0.36; 95% CI, 0.19-0.68). Similarly, risk for HCC was lower in statin users regardless of cirrhosis, diabetes, and elevated HBV DNA or serum cholesterol levels.

Goh and colleagues noted that the study comprised only Korean patients who predominantly present with HBV genotype C. However, based on evidence of anti-cancer effects from statins, they suspect that statins may also exert anti-HBV activity that warrants further investigation. – by Talitha Bennett

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.