Purpose: Statins may have protective effects against cancer, but no studies have focused on their effects in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between use of statins and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in HCV-infected patients.
Patients and methods: Ours was a population-based cohort study of 260,864 HCV-infected patients enrolled in the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database since January 1, 1999, and observed through December 31, 2010. Cox proportional hazards regression with time-dependent covariates for drug exposures was employed to evaluate the association between statin use and HCC risk.
Results: There were 27,883 cases of HCC in the HCV cohort during a follow-up period of 2,792,016.6 person-years. Among the 35,023 patients using statins (defined as ≥ 28 cumulative defined daily doses [cDDDs]), 1,378 had HCC. Among the 225,841 patients not using statins (< 28 cDDDs), 26,505 were diagnosed with HCC. A dose-response relationship between statin use and HCC risk was observed. The adjusted hazard ratios were 0.66 (95% CI, 0.59 to 0.74), 0.47 (95% CI, 0.40 to 0.56), and 0.33 (95% CI, 0.25 to 0.42) for patients with 28 to 89, 90 to 180, and > 180 cDDDs per year, respectively, relative to nonusers. The reduction in risk also demonstrated a progressive duration-response relationship in patients with ≥ 28 cDDDs per year when compared with nonusers.
Conclusion: Among patients with HCV infection, statin use was associated with reduced risk of HCC. Further research is needed to elucidate the mechanism responsible for this effect.