Can statins lessen the burden of virus mediated cancers?

Infect Agent Cancer. 2022 Sep 4;17(1):47. doi: 10.1186/s13027-022-00460-0.


Background: Oncogenic viruses, including hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), human papillomavirus (HPV), Epstein Barr virus (EBV), and Kaposi Sarcoma Herpes virus (KSHV) contribute to a significant proportion of the world's cancers. Given the sizeable burden of virus mediated cancers, development of strategies to prevent and/or treat these cancers is critical. While large population studies suggest that treatment with hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase inhibitors, commonly known as statins, may reduce the risk of many cancer types including HBV/HCV related hepatocellular carcinoma, few studies have specifically evaluated the impact of statin use in populations at risk for other types of virus mediated cancers.

Main body: Studies of populations with HBV and HCV suggest a protective, dose-dependent effect of statins on hepatocellular carcinoma risk and support the theory that statins may offer clinical benefit if used as chemoprophylactic agents to reduce liver cancer incidence. However, no population level data exists describing the impact of statins on populations with other oncogenic viral infections, such as HPV, EBV, and KSHV.

Conclusion: Further study of statin use in diverse, global populations with or at high risk for oncogenic viral infections is essential to determine the impact of statin therapy on virus mediated cancer risk.

Keywords: Cancer; EBV; HBV; HCV; HHV8; HPV; KSHV; Oncogenic virus; Statin; Virus-mediated malignancies.

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