1Dr Mansourian, Dr Yoneda, and Mr Rao are clinical research fellows, Dr Martinez is a gastroenterology fellow, Dr Thomas is an assistant professor, and Dr Schiff is a professor and director of the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Florida.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the leading causes of cancer morbidity and mortality worldwide and is one of the few cancers that is increasing in incidence. This cancer often arises in the setting of hepatic cirrhosis; however, it can also occur in patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection without cirrhosis. Statins have been used for many years for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Based on recent meta-analy-ses, these lipid-lowering agents are now being investigated for a class effect observed in the prevention of carcinogenesis. There are robust data suggesting that statins can alter biochemical pathways involved in tumorigenesis and cell survival and, thus, have a protective effect by reducing the risk of development of several types of cancer. In recent years, several studies have demonstrated that statins also can specifically decrease the risk of HCC development. Because statins are underutilized in patients with preexisting liver disease, understanding the role of statins in the prevention of HCC is important, and changes in practice guidelines supporting the use of statins as chemoprotective agents may be warranted.