Cholesterol-lowering statins may harm bone health

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In a study from the Medical University of Vienna and elsewhere, scientists found for the first time that high doses of cholesterol-lowering statins could impair bone quality.

This is the first study to prove the connection between a high dose of statins and osteoporosis in mice.

The team says this makes it more likely that this is also happening in humans, in addition to the previous cross-sectional study with human data.

The paper published in 2019 laid the groundwork for this new study. It was the first time a dose-dependent link was shown between the cholesterol-lowering drugs and osteoporosis diagnosis.

The team discovered that high doses of statins may increase the risk of the bone-damaging condition, but also saw a protective effect, where a low dose of statins may protect against it.

At that time, a health database of over 7.9 million Austrians was searched and 353,502 statin users were found. Of these, 11,701 had a diagnosis of osteoporosis.

In the new study, the team combined the mouse experiments with big data analysis of the Austrian population.

A total of 39 males and 32 female mice were used in the animal trial. The rodents were divided into two groups: one was given high dose statins and the other was not.

In the big data part of the project, the team went over the same health database of over 7.9 million Austrians used in the 2019 study.

The scientists found 138,666 men and 155,055 post-menopausal women who received high dose statins for at least one year.

They compared them with 415,998 men and 465,165 women who had not taken the cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The team found that long-term high dose statin therapy had detrimental effects on bone in both males and female mice.

Different parts and characteristics of bone, such as volume and thickness, were affected by the cholesterol-lowering statins.

In male mice, bone volume of the trabecular femur (the spongy and porous bone) was reduced by 42%, while in female mice, it was reduced by 34%.

In the big data analysis, the team found that people taking high dose statins were four to six times more likely to develop osteoporosis.

The team says that the new study provides evidence that high doses of statins, one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for lowering cholesterol levels, may cause serious side effects on bone metabolism and have an impact on future treatments

If you care about bone health, please read studies that vegetarian women have higher risk of hip fracture, and these vitamins could help reduce bone fracture risk.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that Krill oil could improve muscle health in older people, and Jarlsberg cheese could help prevent bone thinning disease.

The study was conducted by Peter Klimek et al and published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy.

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