In patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the use of statins after diagnosis was associated with a reduced risk of mortality, according to a study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

To investigate whether statin use following HCC diagnosis impacts patient survival, researchers used data from the VA Central Cancer Registry (2002–2016) to identify patients who filled a prescription for a statin before and after cancer diagnosis (N=15,422). Using time-dependent Cox regression models, they calculated adjusted hazard ratios (HR) for mortality risk. “We used a time-varying exposure to avoid immortal-time bias, and a 3 month lag (following patients from 3 months after cancer diagnosis) to reduce reverse causation,” the authors explained.

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Among the HCC patients included in the analysis, 14.9% (N=2293) were recorded as having used a statin after diagnosis. Results showed that compared with HCC patients who did not use statins, post-diagnosis statin users had a 15% lower risk of death associated with cancer specifically (adjusted HR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.77–0.93) and an 11% lower risk of all-cause mortality (HR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.83–0.95).

“The magnitudes of these inverse associations were consistent for HCC patients using both low- and high-dose statins, and the inverse associations remained across a range of lag periods (from 0 months to 12 months after HCC diagnosis),” the authors reported. However, no independent association was observed between pre-diagnosis statin use and mortality risk.

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