Reduced risk of hepatocellular cancer (HCC) with the use of statins

Data from the National Health Insurance Service in Korea was used to evaluate if the use of statins had any effect on the risk of developing HCC. More than half a million individuals over the age of forty were randomly sampled from over 5 million persons who received physical health examination from the Korea National Health insurance Service in 2002 or 2003. For each case of HCC, 5 matched controls were identified. 1,642 cases fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were compared to 8,210 matched controls. Statin use was significantly associated with a reduced risk of HCC. The risk reduction was greater in patients with liver cirrhosis or diabetes mellitus. The overall crude odds ratio for HCC for users of statins was 0.47 and the adjusted odds ratio was 0.44. In persons with liver cirrhosis the crude odds ratio was 0.34 and the adjusted odds ratio was 0.39.

Kim et al. J Hepatol 2018;68:476-484

Comment: Statins seem to have a strong protective effect against HCC. In the present study this was shown for the whole population and even stronger in persons with liver cirrhosis and diabetes mellitus. The mechanism by which statins protect against  HCC is poorly understood.