May 6, 2009

Statins may protect against liver cancer

Statins, which lower cholesterol, may have a protective effect in the prevention of liver cancer and may reduce gallbladder removal risk, U.S. researchers say.

One study, published in the journal Gastroenterology, said that statin use is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, or liver cancer, among patients with diabetes.

Our study provides the first indication of a cancer preventive effect for statins specific to hepatocellular carcinoma, lead author Dr. Hashem B. El-Serag of the Baylor College of Medicine said in a statement.

While these findings need to be confirmed in future studies, we are hopeful that further research continues to show the beneficial effect of statins for liver cancer prevention in patients with diabetes.

A second study, also published in Gastroenterology, found that the use of statins appears to reduce the risk of cholecystectomy, surgical removal of the gallbladder, in women.

Gallstone disease is a common abdominal condition in developed countries and is a major cause of digestive disease leading to hospital admissions.

Researchers examined the relationship between statin use and the risk of cholecystectomy in a cohort of U.S. women participating in the prospective Nurses' Health Study. Participants biennially reported their health history, including incidence of gallstone disease and whether they had undergone cholecystectomy.