Could Statins Help Prevent Liver Cancer

As one of the top five causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide (as well as a growing cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States alone), liver cancer can be incredibly hard to treat, so it’s also unfortunate that it’s also one of the deadliest types of cancer.

Usually caused by chronic liver disease, most liver cancers are discovered at a late stage, when the treatment that’s available is already limited. As such, more and more people are exploring treatments that can help prevent it in the first place, one of which is statin medications. But are they enough?

Liver Cancer and Statin Treatment

Usually, liver cancer is the cause of another liver disease, and so curing the underlying “trigger disease” is important in reducing your mortality. For example, you can reduce the risk of liver cancer if you cure your hepatitis C infection because it’s one of most common causes of chronic liver disease. Curing the underlying diseases when the cancer itself is at a later stage, however, doesn’t reduce the risk.

This is where statins come into the picture. Usually, statin medications are known for decreasing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and lowering cholesterol levels. In fact, there was even great concern that statins might harm the liver when it first came to the market.

However, it turns out that these medications are beneficial to the liver. In fact, they may even be better at preventing liver cancer than others. This is all thanks to a recent study, which is published in Annals of Internal Medicine, that explored all the different types of statin and their ability to eliminate the risk of liver cancer. As the biggest and most comprehensive study of the topic to date, the researchers found that individuals who took a lipophilic statin were at a significantly lower risk of developing liver cancer than those who were not taking a statin  medication. Taking two types of hydrophilic statins (rosuvastatin or pravastatin) is also associated with a lower risk of death.

Still, the researchers are aware that their study has some limitations. Nevertheless, the study is promising and a step forward in finding a better cure for deadly cancers.

Liver Disease The risk of life-threatening cirrhosis increases when a person engages in binge drinking. Paloma A./Unsplash