Statins Have Protective Effects Against Hepatocellular Cancer in HBV Infection

March 2012, Vol 3, No 2

Several studies have suggested that statins may have protective effects against cancer. The results of the first study to investigate the association between statin therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and the risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) were recently published (Tsan YT, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2012;30:623-630). This population-based study involved 33,413 patients with HBV infection who were tracked between 1997 and 2008 to identify those who developed HCC. Data were collected on statin prescriptions (simvastatin, lovastatin, atorvastatin, fluvastatin, pravastatin, and rosuvastatin) for all patients before a diagnosis of HCC. A total of 1021 cases of HCC were diagnosed among the patients with HBV infection during the follow-up period.

Results showed a dose-response relationship between statin use and the risk for HCC, indicating a reduced risk with a statin. Furthermore, there was a trend (P for trend <.001) toward risk reduction with increasing cumulative daily dose of statin. In addition to overall use of statins, individual statin use (except for pravastatin) also had a significant protective effect in patients with HBV after adjusting for risk of HCC. The mechanism related to the protective effects of statins in HCC risk reduction is not yet understood.

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