June 20, 2006 -- Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs
-- especially Zocor -- appear to lower the risk of the most common kind of
CataractsCataracts -- clouding of the lens of the eye --
become more common as people age. There's some evidence that cataracts are less
common in people who get more antioxidants in their diet. Statins -- the
cholesterol-lowering drugs that include Crestor, Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Pravachol, and Zocor -- have antioxidant
Might they protect against cataracts? Barbara E.K. Klein, MD, MPH, and
colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, looked at data collected in
the Beaver Dam Eye Study, which is following some 6,000 Wisconsin residents
Among some 1,300 study participants examined in 1998-2000 (at an average age
of 63) and again in 2003-2005, 210 developed nuclear cataracts. This kind of
cataract, in the center of the eye lens, is the most common kind of age-related
Sure enough, Klein's team found that people taking statins had a 60% lower
chance of getting cataracts than those who did not take the drugs. They report
their findings in the June 21 issue of The Journal of the American Medical
Much of this may have been due to one drug in particular -- Zocor. Zocor and
Lipitor were the most commonly used statins among study participants. Those who
took Zocor had a 72% lower risk of nuclear cataracts. Those who took Lipitor
had a 27% lower risk. Those who took Pravachol, Lescol, and Mevacor had a
combined 33% lower risk.
Risk for other kinds of age-related cataracts did not go down with the use
of statin drugs.
The researchers will continue to follow study participants to see if these
findings hold up over time.