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Statin treatment and cancer risk

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

  • a meta-analysis and meta-aggression of 35 randomized controlled trials was undertaken to investigate whether statin treatment had a protective effect on cancer risk
  • the authors however did not find evidence to support a protective effect of statins against cancer
    • however the authors noted that this conclusion was limited by the relatively short follow-up periods (4.5 years on average) of the studies analyzed
  • a prospective open cohort study has examined and quantified the unintended risks and benefits of statins in a large representative primary care population over a six year period
    • with respect to risk of oesophageal cancer and statin treatment (2)
      • risk of oesophageal cancer decreased in both men and women associated with statin treatment
      • based on the 20% threshold for cardiovascular risk, for women the NNT with any statin to prevent one case of cardiovascular disease over five years was 37 (95% confidence interval 27 to 64) and for oesophageal cancer was 1266 (850 to 3460) and for men the respective values were 33 (24 to 57) and 1082 (711 to 2807)

  • statin use in heart failure
    • Qing-Wen et al undertook a study that suggests that statin use is associated with a significantly lower risk of incident cancer and cancer-related mortality in HF, an association that appears to be duration dependent


  1. Bonovas S et al. Statins and cancer risk: a literature-based meta-analysis and meta-regression analysis of 35 randomized controlled trials. J Clin Oncol. 2006 Oct 20;24(30):4808-17
  2. Hippisley-Cox J, Coupland C. Unintended effects of statins in men and women in England and Wales: population based cohort study using the QResearch database. BMJ 2010;340:c2197
  3. Qing-Wen Ren, Si-Yeung Yu, Tiew-Hwa Katherine Teng, Xue Li, Ka-Shing Cheung, Mei-Zhen Wu, Hang-Long Li, Pui-Fai Wong, Hung-Fat Tse, Carolyn S P Lam, Kai-Hang Yiu, Statin associated lower cancer risk and related mortality in patients with heart failure, European Heart Journal, 2021; ehab325,

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