Effects of chronic exposure of hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine on the risk of cancer, metastasis, and death: a population-based cohort study on patients with connective tissue diseases

L Fardet, I Nazareth, I Petersen
Clinical Epidemiology 2017, 9: 545-554

Background: Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine may reduce the risk of cancer as they inhibit autophagy, in particular, in people with connective tissue diseases.

Methods: The hazard ratios of cancers, metastases, and death were assessed in adults with connective tissue diseases prescribed hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine for at least 1 year in comparison with unexposed individuals with the same underlying conditions. A competing risk survival regression analysis was performed. Data were extracted from the Health Improvement Network UK primary care database.

Results: Eight thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine individuals exposed to hydroxychloroquine (98.6%) or chloroquine (1.4%) and 24,118 unexposed individuals were included in the study (median age: 56 [45-66] years, women: 76.8%). When compared to the unexposed group, individuals exposed to hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine were not at lower risk of non-skin cancers (adjusted sub-distribution hazard ratio [sHR]: 1.04 [0.92-1.18], p =0.54), hematological malignancies (adjusted sHR: 1.00 [0.73-1.38], p =0.99), or skin cancers (adjusted sHR: 0.92 [0.78-1.07], p =0.26). The risk of metastasis was not significantly different between the two groups. However, it was significantly lower during the exposure period when compared with the unexposed (adjusted sHR: 0.64 [0.44-0.95] for the overall population and 0.61 [0.38-1.00] for those diagnosed with incident cancers). The risk of death was also significantly lower in those exposed to hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine (adjusted HR: 0.90 [0.81-1.00] in the overall population and 0.78 [0.64-0.96] in those diagnosed with incident cancer).

Conclusion: Individuals on long-term exposure to hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine are not at lower risk of cancer. However, hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine may lower the risk of metastatic cancer and death.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"