Research Highlights

Statins reduce the risks of liver cancer associated with hepatitis C 

Published online 30 April 2015

Statin therapy can ease burdens of HCV complications. 

Biplab Das

Researchers have discovered a therapeutic cocktail that can reduce the risk of hepatitis-C-associated liver problems.  

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes chronic liver disease with complications such as fibrosis, cirrhosis and cancer. 

The research team found that these risks can be lowered by combining antiviral agents and cholesterol-lowering drugs, commonly known as statins. The scientists, from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Qatar-based Hamad Healthcare Quality Institute and Hamad Medical Corporation, studied the impact of said mixture by analysing an electronic database of hepatitis C patients1

Of the 7,248 patients who received antiviral therapy in the database, only 46% received it with added statins. 

Incidentally, the statin-treated patients had significantly lower rates of liver fibrosis progression with decreased cirrhosis development and reduced risks of liver cancer compared with those who only received antiviral therapy. 

Lipids, including cholesterol, play critical roles in HCV replication. The statins may stop this by inhibiting synthesis and transport of cholesterol and fatty acids, suggest the researchers. 

“Statin therapy may serve as a supportive treatment for slowing the progress of liver fibrosis and reducing the risks of liver cancer in HCV-infected patients," says principal investigator Adeel Butt. 


  1. Butt, A. A. et al. Effect of addition of statins to antiviral therapy in HCV infected persons: results from ERCHIVES. Hepatology (2015).