IOF LogoIOF World Congress on Osteoporosis 2004, May 14-18, 2004, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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A Danish epidemiologic study presented at the IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis finds that statin users have a substantially reduced risk of hip fractures.

May 16, 2004

A major retrospective study adds weight to the supposition that cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins can be protective against osteoporosis. The study (oral presentation OC18) was one of the most highly anticipated studies at the IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis in Rio de Janeiro.

Statin users experience 30% reduction in hip fracture compared to non-users

Study author Dr. Lars Rejnmark of the University of Aarhus in Denmark and his colleagues assessed the effects of statin use on fracture occurrence by locating the records of 6,660 people who had suffered hip fractures in North Jutland County in Denmark. They then searched a national register of redeemed drug prescriptions for these patients, looking for use of statins in the five years before the fracture. As a control, the researchers examined the records of 33,274 age-matched subjects from a Danish national registry.

"We found that use of statins was associated with a significantly reduced fracture risk," said Dr. Rejnmark. "Those people who used statins had an approximately 30 percent lower hip fracture risk compared to non-users."

Caution called for

Given the conflicting results of past studies, Rejnmark added a cautionary note. "Randomized, controlled studies directly measuring the effects of statins on fracture risk are needed before statins can be used in the treatment of osteoporosis," he said. "Our findings may encourage such studies."

Statins are among the best selling drugs in the world because of their ability to reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Epidemiological studies have indicated that statins provide further benefits against Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis, and animal studies have supported the notion that statins can help maintain bone strength.

Given their relatively mild side-effect profile, some experts have suggested that statins could be used widely as preventative drugs, much like aspirin. But there are still substantial cost and safety differences between statins and aspirins, and considerable benefits would have to be shown for statins before they could be widely recommended.

While the results will not end the debate over whether statins should be prescribed for those at risk of fractures, Dr. Rejnmark believes the study will justify further research, including long-term clinical trials.


The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) is a worldwide organization dedicated to the fight against osteoporosis. It brings together scientists, physicians, patient societies and corporate partners. Working with its 165 member societies in more than 85 locations, and other healthcare-related organizations around the world, IOF encourages awareness and prevention, early detection and improved treatment of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, in which the bones become porous and break easily, is one of the world's most common and debilitating diseases. The result: pain, loss of movement, inability to perform daily chores, and in many cases, death. One out of three women over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will one out of eight men(1). Unfortunately, screening for people at risk is far from being a standard practice. Osteoporosis can, to a certain extent, be prevented, it can be easily diagnosed and effective treatments are available.

1 Melton U, Chrischilles EA, Cooper C et al. How many women have osteoporosis? Journal of Bone Mineral Research, 1992; 7:1005-10

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