Statins are a class of drugs taken by people who need to lower their cholesterol levels. It has now been found that regular statin use may also reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis (OA).
The study, which has provided evidence to this effect, was conducted by researchers from the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre at Keele University. They analysed information entered in the UK General Practice Research Database by 31 December 2006. The review covered data for 16,609 cardiovascular disease patients who were at least 40-years-old, the aim being to establish whether the use of statins reduced the long-term occurrence of clinically defined OA.
When the data was analysed, the research team found that a high-dose statin intake for a minimum of two years was linked to a significant reduction in clinical OA when compared to non-statin users. The highest daily dose (which is approximately 20mg) was estimated to cut the risk of OA development by 60%. Additionally, there was a 40% reduction over four years with larger increments in statin dosage. The authors of the study, whose findings were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, said that the reasons for this link were still to be clarified. They suggested that it may have to do with the anti-inflammatory properties of the drugs.
Mohammed Rashid of Cambridge University´s Department of Public Health and Primary Care commented on the study, saying that the findings provided further evidence of the potential of statins to combat inflammatory conditions. Rashid urged for clinical trials and feasibility studies in order to determine conclusively whether there was a case for giving statins to OA patients.