CHICAGO (AP) -- Two more studies suggest that widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs may prevent brittle bones.
Participants using drugs called statins reduced their risk of fractures by about 70 percent in one study and by 45 percent in the other.
The studies in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association follow last week's publication of similar research in the British medical journal The Lancet.
The three are among the first to suggest that statins might have bone-enhancing effects in humans.
Statins are taken by about 8 million Americans to treat high cholesterol. Research has shown they can activate an enzyme that promotes bone growth, and in rats they have been shown to increase bone formation.
If statins do the same thing in humans, they would stand apart from existing osteoporosis drugs, which slow bone erosion rather than increasing bone, said Dr. Philip S. Wang of Harvard's Brigham and Women's. Hospital, who led one of the JAMA studies.
The authors of both JAMA studies said it is too soon to start prescribing statins to prevent or treat osteoporosis, an often crippling bone-thinning disorder of aging that affects about 10 million Americans.
In an accompanying editorial, two researchers agreed, noting that neither study included measurements of bone mass.
Wang's study involved 6,110 New Jersey residents 65 and older, including 1,222 who underwent hip-fracture surgery in 1994.
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