Chinese herbal medicine may reduce risk of subsequent hepatocellular carcinoma in chronic HBV patients

04 Feb 2017
Incorporating Chinese herbal medicine into care for chronic hepatitis B may promote a favourable prognosis, a new study claims. The traditional medicine was found to be associated with significantly reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in these patients.

The Taiwanese National Health Insurance Research Database was accessed for this cohort study. From this database, a total of 21,020 patients newly diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B between 1998 and 2007 were included in the analysis.

For inclusion, patients had to be at least 20 years of age, have received nucleotide or nucleoside analogues as treatment, and be diagnosed consistently for three outpatient visits or admitted into a hospital on the basis of chronic hepatitis B. Those with prior histories of hepatocellular carcinomas were excluded.

This group consisted of 8,640 patients who received Chinese herbal medicine products and regimens after diagnosis of chronic hepatitis B. The remaining 12,380 patients were used as controls. Follow-up was until the end of 2012; hazard ratios (HR) and incidence risks of hepatocellular carcinoma were the outcomes of the study.

Over the course of the 15-year follow-up period, the incidence rates of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients who received Chinese herbal medicine and those who did not receive it was calculated to be 5.28 and 10.18 percent, respectively.

This means that those receiving Chinese herbal medicine showed significantly reduced risks of subsequently developing hepatocellular carcinoma compared to their control counterparts (adjusted HR, 0.63; 95 percent CI, 0.56 to 0.72), especially in those taking it for longer than 180 days (adjusted HR, 0.52).

Interestingly, specific herbal medicine products were associated with significantly reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma.

The findings show that chronic hepatitis B patients receiving traditional Chinese medicine, particularly in the form of Chinese herbal medicine, may experience reduced risk of subsequent hepatocellular carcinoma.

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