Context Recent animal studies have suggested that 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl
coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins) increase bone formation,
volume, and density. It is unknown whether use of statins is associated with
a decreased risk of fractures in humans.
Objective To determine whether exposure to statins, fibrates, or other lipid-lowering
drugs is associated with reduced bone fracture risk.
Design Population-based, nested case-control analysis.
Setting The UK-based General Practice Research Database (GPRD), comprising some
300 practices, with data collection from the late 1980s until September 1998.
Subjects Within a base population of 91,611 individuals aged at least 50 years
(28,340 individuals taking lipid-lowering drugs, 13,271 untreated individuals
with a diagnosis of hyperlipidemia, and 50,000 randomly selected individuals
without diagnosis of hyperlipidemia), we identified 3940 case patients who
had a bone fracture and 23,379 control patients matched for age (±5
years), sex, general practice attended, calendar year, and years since enrollment
in the GPRD.
Main Outcome Measures Use of statins, fibrates, or other lipid-lowering drugs in case patients
vs control patients.
Results After controlling for body mass index, smoking, number of physician
visits, and corticosteroid and estrogen use, current use of statins was associated
with a significantly reduced fracture risk (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.55;
95% confidence interval [CI], 0.44-0.69) compared with nonuse of lipid-lowering
drugs. Current use of fibrates or other lipid-lowering drugs was not related
to a significantly decreased bone fracture risk (adjusted OR, 0.87; 95% CI,
0.70-1.08 and adjusted OR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.41-1.39, respectively).
Conclusions This study suggests that current exposure to statins is associated with
a decreased risk of bone fractures in individuals age 50 years and older.
This finding has a potentially important public health impact and should be
confirmed further in controlled prospective trials.