Statin use and pancreatic cancer risk in two prospective cohort studies

J Gastroenterol. 2018 Aug;53(8):959-966. doi: 10.1007/s00535-018-1430-x. Epub 2018 Jan 23.


Background: Statins, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, are common lipid-lowering agents and may reduce the risk of several cancer types including pancreatic cancer. However, the association between statin use and pancreatic cancer risk has not been fully evaluated in prospective studies.

Methods: We studied the association between statin use and incident pancreatic cancer in 113,059 participants from the prospective Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Statin use was self-reported via study questionnaires and updated biennially. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for incidence of pancreatic cancer were estimated using multivariable Cox proportional hazards models with adjustment for potential confounders.

Results: In total, 583 participants developed incident pancreatic cancer during 1.4 million person-years of follow-up. No difference was identified in pancreatic cancer risk for regular versus non-regular statin users (multivariable-adjusted HR 0.98; 95% CI 0.82-1.16). There was no significant heterogeneity in the association of statin use with pancreatic cancer risk between the cohorts. Similarly, longer duration of regular statin use was not associated with decreased risk of pancreatic cancer (Ptrend = 0.65). The results remained similar when we examined statin use status at baseline or accounting for 4-year latency period. We observed no statistically significant effect modification for the association of statin use with pancreatic cancer risk by body mass index, smoking status, or diabetes mellitus status (all Pinteraction > 0.21).

Conclusions: Regular statin use was not associated with pancreatic cancer risk in two large prospective cohort studies in the U.S.

Keywords: Chemoprevention; Cohort studies; Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase inhibitors; Pancreatic neoplasms; Risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology*
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors