NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - When administered at doses that lower lipid levels, atorvastatin, sold in the U.S. under the trade name Lipitor, appears to have no effect on bone mineral density or bone metabolism in postmenopausal women, according to researchers.
The results of previous laboratory and clinical studies have suggested the commonly prescribed class of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins "may have very favorable effects on the skeleton," senior investigator Dr. Michael R. McClung told Reuters Health. "This study demonstrates clearly that statins do not have effects on bone in the clinical setting."
McClung, of the Oregon Osteoporosis Center, Portland, and colleagues studied 626 postmenopausal women with high levels of LDL cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol. The women were randomly assigned to treatment with one of four doses of atorvastatin daily or to placebo (sugar pill), the researchers report in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
At 52 weeks, all of the active treatment groups showed significant reductions in LDL cholesterol compared with levels at the beginning of the study and compared with placebo. The treatment was also well tolerated.
However, the researchers found no evidence that atorvastatin treatment had any significant effects on bone mass or markers of bone mass.
Co-author Dr. Henry G. Bone of the Michigan Bone and Mineral Clinic, Detroit, told Reuters Health that "our study pretty well eliminates the likelihood that conventional therapy with such agents would have a clinically significant beneficial or harmful effect on bone metabolism."
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, December 2008.