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Could Aspirin Reduce Risk of Liver Cancer in Viral Hepatitis?

Could Aspirin Reduce Risk of Liver Cancer in Viral Hepatitis?

ASPIRIN could be an effective therapy in reducing the risk of liver cancer and liver-related death in patients with chronic viral hepatitis according to the results of a recent study. The results of the nationwide study in Sweden suggested that a low dose of aspirin substantially reduced the risk of these conditions for those studied.

The Swedish Register for Surveillance of Communicable Diseases database was used to source data for 50,275 adults diagnosed between 2005 and 2015 with acute and chronic viral hepatitis B (HBV) (n=13,276) and viral hepatitis C (HCV) (n=36,999) infection. Of these, 14,205 were taking low-dose (75 mg or 160 mg) aspirin and 36,070 were not using aspirin. The data showed that aspirin users had a 10-year cumulative incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) of 4.0%, whereas for those who did not take aspirin had an incidence of 8.3%. Multivariable adjustment of the results showed that aspirin users had a 31.0% lower risk of HCC than nonusers. This risk was significantly lower after 3–5 years or more than 5 years of aspirin use (adjusted hazard ratio: 0.66, 0.57, respectively) as opposed to between 3 months and 1 year (adjusted hazard ratio: 0.90) or with intermittent, discontinued, or no aspirin use. The risk of HCC also rose if patients stopped taking aspirin; these patients had a 22% higher risk than peers who continued to take aspirin.

The study authors commented: “Our results were consistent regardless of sex, cause of hepatitis, or underlying compensated cirrhosis. The consistent duration–response associations lend further credence to a potential causal relationship.”

The study results carry a number of limitations, including cirrhosis only being measured at baseline and not throughout the median 8-year follow-up, and a lack of information about sustained virologic response rates or the treatment used in patients with HBV.