The incidence of esophageal cancer is increasing in the United States, especially among patients with Barrett's esophagus (BE). Statins might prevent this cancer.
Dr Prasad Iyer and colleagues from Minnesota, USA performed a systematic review with a meta-analysis of studies that evaluated the effect of statins on the risk of esophageal cancer.
The researchers conducted a systematic search of Medline, Embase, and Web of Science through 2012.
Studies were included if they evaluated exposure to statins, reported the development of esophageal cancer, and reported relative risks or odds ratios, or provided data for their estimation.
Summary odds ratio estimates with 95% confidence intervals were calculated using the random-effects model.
The analysis included 13 studies reporting 9285 cases of esophageal cancer among 1,132,969 patients.
A meta-analysis of the studies showed a significant reduction in the risk of esophageal cancer among patients who took statins, although there was considerable heterogeneity among studies.
In analyzing a subset of patients known to have Barrett's esophagus, statins were associated with a significant decrease in the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma, after adjusting for potential confounders with consistent results among all studies.
The number needed to treat with statins to prevent 1 case of esophageal adenocarcinoma in patients with Barrett's esophagus was 389.
Dr Iyer's team commented, "Based on meta-analysis of observational studies, statin use may be associated with lower risk of esophageal cancer, particularly risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma in patients with Barrett's esophagus."