Warfarin Use Could Lower Cancer Risk

November 7, 2017

Warfarin use is linked to a reduced incidence of cancer among older adults, according to the results of a recent study.

In order to examine the association between warfarin use and cancer incidence, the researchers conducted a population-based cohort study with subgroup analysis using data from the Norwegian National Registry, Norwegian Prescription Database, and Cancer Registry of Norway, including all persons born between January 1, 1924 and December 31, 1954 who were living in Norway from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2012. The participants were divided into warfarin users and nonusers. Warfarin use was defined as those who were taking at least 6 months of a prescription and had at least 2 years from first prescription to any cancer diagnosis.

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Of the 1,256,725 individuals, 132,687 had cancer and 92,942 were warfarin users. Warfarin users had a mean age of 70.2 years and were predominately men. Among users, there was a significantly lower age- and sex-adjusted incidence rate ration (IRR) in all cancer sites (IRR 0.84) and in prevalent organ-specific sites (lung 0.80, prostate 0.69, breast 0.90).

“Warfarin use may have broad anticancer potential in a large, population-based cohort of persons older than 50 years. This finding could have important implications for the selection of medications for patients needing anticoagulation,” the researchers concluded.

—Michael Potts


Haaland GS, Falk RS, Straume O, et al. Association of warfarin use with lower overall cancer incidence among patients older than 50 years [published online November 6, 2017]. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.5512.