Systematic review and meta-analysis: Use of statins is associated with a reduced incidence of oesophageal adenocarcinoma

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Purpose: Laboratory studies have suggested that statins may have useful anti-cancer effects against Barrett’s epithelial cancer lines. A variety of effects have been reported in clinical studies.

Methods: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between statin use and the development of oesophageal cancer. Multiple databases were searched for studies reporting the association of statin use and oesophageal cancer. Meta-analysis on the relationship between statin use and cancer incidence was performed.

Results: Twenty publications met eligibility criteria, yielding 22 datasets for meta-analysis. All were observational studies. Population-level studies included 372,206 cancer cases and 6,086,906 controls. Studies examining adenocarcinoma development in Barrett’s oesophagus included 1057 cancers and 17,741 controls. In patients with Barrett’s oesophagus, statin use was associated with a reduced incidence of adenocarcinoma (pooled adjusted odds ratio (OR) 0.59 (95% confidence intervals 0.50–0.68)), with no heterogeneity between 11 studies. Population-based studies demonstrated more heterogeneity but showed that statin use was associated with a lower incidence of both oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OR 0.57 (0.43–0.76)) and all oesophageal cancers (OR 0.82 (0.7–0.88)). Information on statin type, dose, and duration was reported too infrequently for statistical analysis but individual studies showed a tendency to a dose- and duration-dependant decrease in cancer incidence.

Conclusions: Statin use is associated with a significantly lower incidence of oesophageal adenocarcinoma. This is seen in both Barrett’s cohorts and general populations. Further studies should focus on drug, dose, and duration and the interaction with other risk and preventative factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442–454
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Cancer
Issue number4
Early online date10 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Barrett’s oeosphagus
  • Chemoprevention
  • Cancer risk
  • Oesophageal carcinoma
  • Statins

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