Statin Use and Risk for Primary Liver Cancer in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink

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Statins (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors) are widely prescribed to reduce cholesterol levels. Studies have suggested that statins are associated with reduced risk for liver cancer, but much of the evidence is from regions of the world with high liver cancer incidence rates. The current study examined the statins–liver cancer relationship in a low-rate region and examined the effects of preexisting liver disease and diabetes on that association.


A nested case-control study was conducted within the United Kingdom’s Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). Persons diagnosed with primary liver cancer between 1988 and 2011 were matched to controls at a four-to-one ratio. Matches stratified on liver disease and on diabetes were also completed. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for associations of statins with liver cancer were estimated using conditional logistic regression.


In total, 1195 persons with primary liver cancer were matched to 4640 control patients. Statin use was associated with a statistically significantly reduced risk for liver cancer (ORadj = 0.55, 95% CI = 0.45 to 0.69), especially among current users (ORadj = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.42 to 0.66). The reduced risk was statistically significant in the presence (ORadj = 0.32, 95% CI = 0.17 to 0.57) and absence of liver disease (ORadj = 0.65, 95% CI = 0.52 to 0.81) and in the presence (ORadj = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.21 to 0.42) and absence of diabetes (ORadj = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.51 to 0.85).


In the current study in a low-rate area, statin use was associated with a statistically significantly reduced risk for liver cancer overall. Risk was particularly reduced among persons with liver disease and persons with diabetes, suggesting that statin use may be especially beneficial in persons at elevated risk for liver cancer.

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