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Statin Use Is Associated With Reduced Risk of Primary Liver Cancer in Low-Prevalence Setting

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Key Points

  • Statin use was associated with a significantly reduced risk for primary liver cancer in a setting of low liver cancer prevalence.
  • Reductions were greatest in persons with liver disease or diabetes.

In a study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, McGlynn et al found that statin use was associated with a reduced risk of primary liver cancer in a setting of low liver cancer prevalence. Other studies have shown a preventive benefit of statin therapy in regions of the world with high liver cancer rates.

Study Details

This nested case-control study was conducted within the United Kingdom’s Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). A total of 1,195 patients diagnosed with primary liver cancer between 1988 and 2011 were matched to 4,640 controls (4:1 ratio) for index year, age at index year, sex, and length of enrollment in the CPRD prior to the index date. Statin use was defined as two or more prescriptions prior to the index date of case patients and control patients. Current statin use was use that ended within 1 year prior to the index date. Risk analysis was adjusted for known liver cancer risk factors including body mass index, smoking, alcohol-related disorders, HBV or HCV infection, and diabetes, as well as for use of aspirin, antidiabetic medications, and paracetamol.

Reduced Risk

Statin use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of primary liver cancer (odds ratio [OR] = 0.55, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.45–0.69), as was current statin use (OR = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.42–0.66). A significantly reduced risk was observed both among patients with (OR = 0.32, 95% CI = 0.17–0.57) and without liver disease (OR = 0.65, 95% CI = 0.52–0.81) and in those with (OR = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.21–0.42) or without diabetes (OR = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.51–0.85).

The investigators concluded: “In the current study in a low-rate area, statin use was associated with a statistically significantly reduced risk of liver cancer overall. Risk was particularly reduced among persons with liver disease and persons with diabetes, suggesting that statin use may be especially beneficial in persons at elevated risk of liver cancer.”

Katherine A. McGlynn, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, is the corresponding author of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute article.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health. The study authors reported no potential conflicts of interest.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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