Statins Osteoporosis, Osteopenia

Statins Osteoporosis, Osteopenia. There has been a long quest for finding a really effective pharmaceutical treatment for Osteoporosis and Osteopenia. Most of the pharmaceutical drugs on the market have serious drawbacks.

Bisphosphonates - when these drugs first came to the market there was much rejoicing. 

They DID increase bone density. But within a few years, their downside became apparent. The drugs increase bone density by slowing the body's normal process of removing old bone. Those using these prescription medications did show increase bone density BUT since much of the increased density was made up of bone that their body's would normally replace as too old to be effective, those using of these drugs began to experience deterioration, spontaneous crumbling of their bones.

Osteonecrosis (dead bone) entered the every day vocabulary of those being treated with bisphosphonates.

Statins Osteoporosis, Osteopenia solution?

Statin drugs are usually associated with cardio issues. These drugs were developed to help lower cholesterol levels and thus help prevent heart attacks and/or strokes. Research has shown that, for certain people, statin drugs reduce the risk of heart  attack, stroke, and even death from heart disease by about 25% to 35%.

As early as 2005, statins were raised as possible bone builders.  A study published in Phramacotherapy (February 2005) said that "Two mechanisms for beneficial effects of statins on bones have been proposed, and although in vitro, in vivo, and animal studies have shown positive effects on bone mineralization and reductions in bone resorption,  clinical data on surrogate markers and fracture rates are conflicting." 

Is was that conflict that prevented immediate adoption of statins for increasing bone density.  In 2007 an article was published in the journal, Bone, that offered a meta-analysis of ALL studies about Statins Osteoporosis to date. The article concluded , among other things, that "In vitro and in vivo, statins show convincing anabolic and anti-resorptive bone effects. However, in a clinical  meta-analysis (MA), they did not prevent hip fractures."

It is the last part of that conclusion that dashed the hopes of many who had seen statins as a real new hope for those concerned about Osteoporosis or Ostepenia.

Researchers did not give up and in 2010 another study was published, "Effects of  statins vs. non-statin lipid-lowering therapy on bone formation and bone mineral density biomarkers  in patients with hyperlipidemia". 

This study " of 212 hyperlipidemia with osteopenia patients of which 106 patients in statin group had mean age (63.17+/-9.51 years) and the same number of patients in non-statin group had mean age (60.96+/-8.9 years). All subjects were 63 patients in male and 149 patients in  female. Difference of bone formation marker and BMD between after and before was significantly higher than in statin group and the difference of bone resorption marker was also significantly lower than in statin group." 

The researchers concluded that "The lipophilic statin as moderate to high dose of simvastatin had beneficial positive effect to increasing BMD and could be additive use  for prevention of bone loss in hyperlipidemia patients."  NOTE: the study did not suggest using statins 'across the board' but only for those showing high lipid profiles.

Studies continued and in 2017 are article was published in Osteoporosis International that summarized what researchers had learned this far. This study found that: "statin treatment may be associated with a decreased risk of overall fractures and hip fractures, an increased BMD at the total hip, BMD at the lumbar spine, and OC. Moreover, our results also show that statin treatment may have a  greater effect on male patients than on female patients."

What do these study say to us? So if your doctor has you on Statin drugs, you may receive positive side effects for your bone density.  I do want to add that I have found no article to date that recommends the use of statin drugs just for the treatment of Osteoporosis or Osteopenia in itself....that is in the absence of high lipid profile.

If you have questions, do talk with your health care provider about Statins Osteoporosis, Osteopenia.

NIH publications: 

See also: Cleveland Clinic Statins Osteoporosis

Click to read more articles about pharmaceutical treatment of  Osteoporosis, Osteopenia .  If you want to explore effective natural treatments to increase bone density, go to Natural treatments.

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