Cholesterol Rx Didn't Improve Bone Health

Rosuvastatin did not reduce bone fracture risk in older patients

(RxWiki News) Some medications help patients in several ways — such as how an aspirin for a fever may also lower heart attack risk — but that isn't always the case. A medication for cholesterol once thought to improve bone health probably doesn't do so, a new study found.

This study found that rosuvastatin, a statin medication for high cholesterol, had no effect on the risk of bone fracture among older adults. Some earlier research hinted that statins may be tied to a lower risk of bone fractures.

"Our study does not support the use of statins in doses used for cardiovascular disease prevention to reduce the risk of fracture," wrote Jessica M. Peña, MD, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY, and colleagues.

For the study, Dr. Peña and colleagues looked at data from the Justification for the Use of Statins in Prevention: an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin, or JUPITER, trial.

The JUPITER trial was a large study of 17,802 patients from 26 countries. The men in the study were all older than 50. The women were older than 60.

The patients all underwent a high-sensitivity C-reactive protein test, which measures the level of C-reactive protein in the body. High C-reactive protein levels can signal increased inflammation in the body and could show an increased risk for heart disease. Dr. Peña and team noted that inflammation could also be tied to bone health issues — like osteoporosis.

The patients all had a C-reactive protein level of at least 2 milligrams (mg) per liter — meaning that they had average or raised C-reactive protein levels.

Half of the patients used 20 mg a day of rosuvastatin calcium (brand name Crestor), and half used a placebo — an inactive medication replacement.

The patients were followed for an average of 1.9 years — some for up to five years.

During that time, the patients reported a total of 431 bone fractures — 221 fractures among the 8,901 rosuvastatin patients and 210 among the 8,901 placebo patients. These results did not suggest that the statin medication had any affect on fracture rates, Dr. Peña and team noted.

These researchers also did not find any association between a higher C-reactive protein level at the beginning of the study and an increased risk of fracture.

This study was published Dec. 1 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which produces Crestor, funded the JUPITER trial. Several of the study authors received funding from a number of different sources, such as AstraZeneca and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Review Date: 
November 29, 2014