Are Statin Cholesterol Drugs making Your Knee Arthritis Worse?

Statin drugs for cholesterol were the world’s first true blockbuster drugs. These cholesterol lowering drugs generated 27 billion in worldwide sales in 2009 and the number one selling drug in 2010 was a statin drug. With all of that extra cash, the drug companies have been funding what I call Statin “wonder drug” studies for years, trying to show that statins are good for everyday use by even more people than just those with high cholesterol. One of the areas they have been funding is arthritis, with a few small animal studies that purport to show that statins are great for cartilage. Which brings us to the obvious question of statin cholesterol drugs and arthritis. This has never made much sense to me, as our own lab data has suggested that statins are pretty toxic to bone marrow stem cells in culture.   In addition, statin drugs have begun to come under attack from some academics, who believe they are really bad for you. Other recent studies have shown that statins are bad for nerves and one animal model has shown that the cholesterol drugs may accelerate arthritis. Now comes a new study that followed more than two thousand knee arthritis patients in a study registry over 4 years and found that statin use was associated with more loss of function. It also looks like the study may have been designed to detect that statins were helping knee arthritis patients, but it didn’t turn out that way. The upshot? Look for natural ways to deal with cardiac risk, as statins IMHO are bad news!

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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