Background and Aims: Statins are the first-line medication to treating hypercholesterolemia. Several studies have investigated the impact of statins on the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the extent to which statins may prevent HCC remains uncertain. Therefore, we performed a meta-analysis of relevant studies to quantify the magnitude of the association between statins use and the risk of HCC. Methods: A systematic literature search of PubMed, EMBASE, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Scopus was performed for studies published between January 1, 1990, and September 1, 2019, with no restriction of language. Two reviewers independently evaluated the literature and included observational and experimental studies that reported the association between statin use and HCC risk. The random-effect model was used to calculate the overall risk ratio (RR) with a 95% confidence interval (CI), and the heterogeneity among the studies was assessed using the Q statistic and I2 statistic. The Newcastle Ottawa Scale (NOS) was also used to evaluate the quality of the included studies. Results: A total of 24 studies with 59,073 HCC patients was identified. Statin use was associated with a reduced risk of HCC development (RR: 0.54, 95% CI: 0.47–0.61, I2 = 84.39%) compared with nonusers. Moreover, the rate of HCC reduction was also significant among patients with diabetes (RR: 0.44, 95% CI: 0.28–0.70), liver cirrhosis (RR: 0.36, 95% CI: 0.30–0.42), and antiviral therapy (RR: 0.21, 95% CI: 0.08–0.59) compared with nonusers. Conclusion: This study serves as additional evidence supporting the beneficial inhibitory effect of statins on HCC incidence. The subgroup analyses of this study also highlight that statins are significantly associated with a reduced risk of HCC and may help to direct future prevention efforts. Additional large clinical studies are needed to determine whether statins are associated with a lower risk of HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number671
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Fatty liver
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Liver fibrosis
  • Statins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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