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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 2004 December;95(6):521-8


language: English

Statins and osteoporosis: myth or reality?

Rizzo M., Di Fede G., Mansueto P., Castello F., Carmina E., Rini G. B.


Several beneficial effects produced by statins over and above the reduction in plasma cholesterol levels, the so-called ''pleiotropic effects'' of statins, have been described. Recent clinical and experimental data have suggested a potential new effect of these drugs, namely a reduction in the risk of osteoporotic fractures. In 1999 the role of statins in bone formation was shown and, after that, observations of large groups of patients have pointed to a reduction in the risk of osteoporotic fractures with the use of statins compared to those using other lipid-lowering drugs or to the control group. The first prospective studies have produced contrasting results as to the effects of therapy with several statins (atorvastatin, fluvastatin, simvastatin) at different doses on biochemical markers of bone remodelling. To date only one randomised trial has been published. This compares the effects of treatment with simvastatin and atorvastatin on the levels of biochemical markers of bone remodelling, but still with non-univocal results: only therapy with simvastatin (but not atorvastatin) reduced the levels of bone-specific alkaline phosphatase. To conclude, observational studies have shown a reduction in the risk of osteoporotic fractures with the use of statins, but it is not yet known whether using these drugs may have a beneficial effect on bone turnover. We must therefore await larger prospective randomised clinical trials before prescribing these drugs in osteoporotic patients.

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