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Background: Statins inhibit the same biochemical pathway as aminobisphosphonates, therefore these cholesterol-lowering agents may have a beneficial effect on osteoporosis. This possibility has been supported by the finding that some statins also stimulate bone formation, and by observational studies suggesting that patients using statins have higher bone densities and lower fracture rates than controls. To assess whether statins have clinically significant effects on bone, we studied the frequency of fractures in a large randomised controlled trial of these agents. Methods: 9014 patients (17% women, median age 62 years) with ischaemic heart disease were randomly assigned pravastatin 40 mg daily or placebo and followed up for a mean of 6.0 years. Fractures were ascertained from adverse-event reports. Findings: 101 patients in the placebo group were admitted to hospital for fracture compared with 107 in the pravastatin group (hazard ratio 1.05 [95% Cl 0.80-1.37]). When patients with fractures not necessitating hospital admission were added, the total number of patients having a fracture was 183 in the placebo group and 175 in the pravastatin group (0.94 [0.77-1.16]). Separate analyses for women alone and for individuals aged 65 years and over gave similar results. Interpretation: These findings offer no support for the hypothesis that statins have a significant effect on fracture risk. However, this study was not of an osteoporotic population, and fracture rate, although clinically important, is an insensitive index of effects on bone. Statins should not be used to prevent osteoporosis until there is evidence for their efficacy based on randomised controlled trials.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





509 - 512