More Evidence Cholesterol Drugs Reduce Fracture Risk
WebMD News Archive
JAMA editorialist Steven R. Cummings, MD, professor of medicine and
epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, tells WebMD that
even though he is enthusiastic about a possible role for statins, he is opposed
to using the drugs for osteoporosis before the findings are confirmed.
"It is far too early to rely upon statins for fracture protection. We've
got good, well-proven drugs that can be used for fracture prevention,"
On their own in study after study, statins have a stellar track record.
Clinical evidence suggests that statins can prolong life in the face of heart
attack, reduce the risk of stroke, and lower blood pressure. Nonetheless,
Philip S. Wang, MD, DrPH, lead author of one of the JAMA studies, says
it is far too soon to "consider [statins] as the one-pill
Yet, the prospect is attractive, and even as he urges restraint, Cummings
says that UCSF is in the planning stages of a study on using statins for
osteoporosis. He says the trial is being planned with the assistance of Gregory
Mundy, MD, PhD, the author of the rat study published in Science late
Mundy, professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science
Center San Antonio, tells WebMD that he is "tremendously pleased with all
these studies. Firstly, because they suggest that statins are effective in
humans and secondly, they show that they may be effective at [the normal
Since publishing his animal work, Mundy says he had been pursuing the
concept of a "bone statin", which would be delivered by a skin patch.
The skin patch could potentially keep more of the drug working in the body
because it would avoid breakdown by the stomach and intestines. But these
recent studies suggest the skin patch may not be needed to protect against
fractures because the oral form seems to work for fracture prevention.
Mundy says he is especially encouraged by the JAMA paper from
Christoph R. Meier, MD, PhD, of the University Hospital of Basel Switzerland,
because that study suggests that statins may begin to make a difference quickly
-- in a few weeks to a few months.