Statins and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with hepatitis B virus infection

J Clin Oncol. 2012 Feb 20;30(6):623-30. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2011.36.0917. Epub 2012 Jan 23.


Purpose: Statins have potential protective effects against cancers, but no studies have focused on patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between the use of statins in HBV-infected patients and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Patients and methods: We conducted a population-based cohort study from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. A total of 33,413 HBV-infected patients were included as the study cohort. Each patient was individually tracked from 1997 to 2008 to identify incident cases of HCC since 1999. Subsequent use of statin, other lipid-lowering agents, aspirin, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors was identified. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to calculate the hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for the association between the use of statins and the occurrence of HCC in the HBV-infected cohort.

Results: There were 1,021 HCCs in the HBV cohort during the follow-up period of 328,946 person-years; the overall incidence rate was 310.4 HCCs per 100,000 person-years. There was a dose-response relationship between statin use and the risk of HCC in the HBV cohort. The adjusted HRs were 0.66 (95% CI, 0.44 to 0.99), 0.41 (95% CI, 0.27 to 0.61), and 0.34 (95% CI, 0.18 to 0.67) for statin use of 28 to 90, 91 to 365, and more than 365 cumulative defined daily doses (cDDDs), respectively, relative to no statin use (< 28 cDDDs).

Conclusion: Statin use may reduce the risk for HCC in HBV-infected patients in a dose-dependent manner. Further mechanistic research is needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Incidence
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Liver Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors