HBF is pleased to connect our blog readers to Christine Kukka’s monthly HBV Journal Review that she writes for the HBV Advocate. The journal presents the latest in hepatitis B research, treatment, and prevention from recent academic and medical journals. This month, the following topics are explored:
- Cholesterol and Type 2 Diabetes Drugs Markedly Lower Cancer Risk in Hepatitis B Patients
- Hepatitis B Increases Risk of Stomach Cancer
- Unsafe Injections Caused 1.7 Million HBV Infections Worldwide in 2010
- New Guidelines Require Doctors to Screen for Hepatitis B Before Starting Chemotherapy
- Computer Reminders Effective at Prompting Doctors to Screen for HBV Before Starting Chemotherapy
- Study Finds Getting Frequent Cancer Screenings Saves Lives
- Use of Radio Waves to Destroy Small Liver Tumors as Effective as Surgery
- Interferon Increases Thyroid Disease in Hepatitis B and C Patients
- Smoking Impairs Recovery from Hepatitis B and the Effectiveness of Immunization
- Hepatitis B Immunization Coverage Declined 2.1% in 2013
March 1, 2015
Volume 12, No 3
by Christine M. Kukka
Cholesterol and Type 2 Diabetes Drugs Markedly Lower Cancer Risk in Hepatitis B Patients
A large, ground-breaking study that followed 71,824 patients infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) from 2000 to 2008 found that those who took medium to high doses of metformin and/or statins had substantially lower rates of liver and other cancers.
The study, conducted by Taiwanese researchers and published in the February issue of the journal Medicine, examined the impact of:
- Statins: Drugs taken to reduce triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood
- And metformin: A drug used to treat patients in the early stages of type 2 diabetes.
There have been some studies that suggest statins reduce liver cancer risk in hepatitis B patients, however this large study that spanned eight years found a definite decrease in cancers in patients who took these drugs, especially at higher doses.
While the exact mechanisms that protect against cancer are not known, researchers suspect that statins and metformin decrease inflammation caused by HBV infection by altering the availability of lipids (fats) in the bloodstream.
“Changes in lipid metabolism can affect numerous cancer cellular processes, including cancer cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, and motility,” the researchers wrote. As a result, the drugs appeared to prevent or slow development of liver, colon, breast, lung and pancreatic cancers.”
They reported: Hepatitis B patients taking only statins had a 52% reduced risk of all types of cancers and a 28% reduced risk of liver cancer, compared to HBV-infected patients who did not take statins.
Patients taking only metformin had an 82% reduction for all cancers and a 97% reduction for liver cancer. Higher doses of metformin provided the most protection.
The “synergistic effect” of the combined use of statin and metformin reduced colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and other cancers in young hepatitis B patients between the ages of 20 and 49,” they reported. The drug combination also reduced lung, stomach, and cervical cancers in patients age 50 and older.
“The results of our study suggest that the incidence of cancer in patients with HBV infection can be reduced by utilizing preventive strategies,” they wrote. “This is also the first article that suggests a dose–response effect and synergistic effect of statin and metformin use in reducing the incidence of all kinds of cancers.”
Hepatitis B Increases Risk of Stomach Cancer
Researchers have found higher rates of pancreatic and liver cancer in individuals infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), and now a new study finds a 50% increased risk of gastric (stomach) cancer among people with HBV.