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Keywords:

  • aspirin;
  • Barrett's esophagus;
  • esophageal cancer;
  • statins

Summary

The incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) is increasing significantly throughout the developed world. As yet, there are no proven chemopreventive strategies. In laboratory studies, aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and statins have promising chemopreventive actions. Several observational studies support a protective effect of aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but there are only limited clinical data exploring the potential protective effect of statins. We conducted a case–control study examining aspirin and statin use in patients with EAC. Cancer cases were compared against age-sex-matched controls attending for diagnostic upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. Risk factor and drug exposure were established using standardized interviews. Logistic regression was used to compare statin exposure and correct for confounding factors. A total of 112 cases and 448 controls were enrolled. Statin use was associated with a significantly lower incidence of EAC (odds ratio 0.52, 95% confidence interval 0.27–0.92). Aspirin use was also associated with apparent protection against EAC (odds ratio 0.68, 95% confidence interval 0.28–0.92), and a significantly greater effect was seen with the combination of statin plus aspirin (odds ratio 0.27, 95% confidence interval 0.05–0.67). There was a significant trend for greater risk reduction with longer duration and higher doses of statin use. Simvastatin comprised the majority of statin use, but similar effects were seen with simvastatin and non-simvastatin agents. In this observational study, patients regularly using statins or aspirin had a lower incidence of EAC. Statins may have clinically useful effects in preventing the development of EAC.