Statin use may reduce cancer-related mortality in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

In patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), statin use is associated with reduced cancer-related mortality, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is common in patients with NAFLD and is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality. However, malignancy-related mortality rates have increased dramatically in recent years. Although epidemiological studies have suggested a possible association between the use of statins and a reduced risk of various malignancies, this association remains questionable given the observational nature of the available evidence and the risk of confounding factors.

Therefore, researchers assessed the effects of statin use on cancer mortality in patients with NAFLD among a cohort of patients in the United States who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Survey ( NHANES).

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A total of 10,821 participants were included in the study. The average patient age was 48 and 64 years, 56% and 51% were female, and 38% and 78% had hypertension, among patients not using statins compared to those using statins. respectively. Patients using statins were more likely to be male, classified as obese and with diabetes; statin users were less likely to be current smokers.

Of the NAFLD patients included in the study, 23% were using statins (n=2523). In a multivariate analysis, researchers found that statin use was associated with a 43% reduction in the risk of cancer mortality (P <.001 while statin use for year did not show a significant effect on cancer mortality years decreased href="">Cancer 35% mortality (P = 0.46), and use of statins for more than 5 years reduced cancer mortality by 56% (P <.001 additionally statin use was associated with a significantly decreased risk of cancer mortality in nafld patients at low and high for class="wpil_keyword_link " href="/a-problem-of-proportions-estimates-of-metabolically-associated-fatty-liver-and-liver-fibrosis-in-australian-adults-in-the-2012-national-ausdiab-study/" title="liver fibrosis" data-wpil-keyword-link="linked">liver fibrosis.

In an analysis that excluded cancer patients, compared to patients not using statins, dye users were associated with a 38% lower risk of cancer mortality (P =.006).

Stratified by sex, statin use in men was associated with a 51% lower risk of cancer-related mortality (P <.001 this trend was also observed in women although it did not reach statistical significance.>

This study was limited by its observational nature. Additionally, researchers were unable to assess the effects of statin use on different types of cancer due to a lack of data.

The researchers concluded, “These findings are important for clinical decision-making, as statin indications are widespread in patients with NAFLD, but many do not receive benefit if the statin is discontinued due to liver test abnormalities.


Hajifathalian K, Tafesh Z, Rosenblatt R, et al. Effect of statin use on cancer-related mortality in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. a prospective cohort study in the United States. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2022;56(2):173-80. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000001503

This article originally appeared on Gastroenterology Advisor

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