A new study has found that the link between statin risk and osteoporosis varies greatly with medication dosage.
The study investigated nearly the whole of the population of Austria.
Altogether, the researchers analyzed health data from the start of 2006 to the end of 2007 on 7.9 million people.
They compared rates of osteoporosis diagnosis in statin users with those who had never used statins. They looked at the effect of different doses of lovastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, and simvastatin.
The comparison revealed lower rates of osteoporosis diagnoses among low dose statin users and higher rates among high dose users.
The team defined low dose statin use as up to 10 milligrams (mg) per day.
"In the lower dose groups," says Dr. Alexandra Kautzky-Willer, senior study author and head of the Gender Medicine Unit at the University of Vienna in Austria, "there were fewer osteoporosis cases than expected."
"With doses of 20 mg and more, however, the tide seems to turn," she adds, explaining that "We found more osteoporosis cases in patients treated with simvastatin, atorvastatin, and rosuvastatin than expected."
The analysis also showed that the effect got stronger as the dose increased.
Osteoporosis and bone density
Osteoporosis is a disease of low density and structural deterioration in bone tissue. The condition makes bone more porous and brittle and the risk of fracture, especially in the wrist, hip, and spine.
Older people have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. This is because the balance between bone formation and resorption, or dissolving, shifts towards greater resorption with age.