DALLAS, TX — Do statins help decrease cancer, especially non-Hodgkin lymphoma and mortality risk in persons with HIV (PWH) and uninfected people?

A new study suggested that statins appear to have immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects and might reduce cancer risk, particularly among PWH as they experience chronic inflammation and immune activation.

To help determine that, The VA North Texas Healthcare System-led study team focused on a propensity score-matched cohort of statin-exposed and unexposed patients from 2002 to 2017 in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS), a large cohort with cancer registry linkage and detailed pharmacy data.

Specifically, researchers looked at statin use for all cancers, microbial cancers (associated with bacterial or oncovirus coinfection), nonmicrobial cancers and mortality. Results were published in the journal AIDS.1

Of 47,940 participants, 23,970 were statin initiators (31% PWH). With incident cancers diagnosed in 1,160 PWH and 2,116 uninfected patients, mortality occurred in 1,667 (7.0%) statin-exposed and 2,215 (9.2%) unexposed patients.

Results indicated that statin use was associated with 24% decreased risk of microbial-associated cancers (hazard ratio 0.76; 95% CI 0.69-0.85) but was not associated with nonmicrobial cancer risk (hazard ratio 1.00; 95% CI 0.92-1.09). Furthermore, according to the authors, statin use was associated with 33% lower risk of death overall (hazard ratio 0.67; 95% CI 0.63-0.72).

“Results were similar in analyses stratified by HIV status, except for non-Hodgkin lymphoma where statin use was associated with reduced risk (hazard ratio 0.56; 95% CI 0.38-0.83) for PWH, but not for uninfected (P interaction = 0.012),” they added.

The study concluded that in both HIV patients and those uninfected, statin exposure was associated with lower risk of microbial, but not nonmicrobial cancer incidence, and with decreased mortality.


  1. Bedimo RJ, Park LS, Shebl FM, Sigel K, Rentsch CT, Crothers K, Rodriguez-Barradas MC, Goetz MB, Butt AA, Brown ST, Gibert C, Justice AC, Tate JP. Statin exposure and risk of cancer in people with and without HIV infection. AIDS. 2021 Feb 2;35(2):325-334. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000002748. PMID: 33181533; PMCID: PMC7775280.