June 27, 2006
Statins may decrease risk of cataracts: study
Statin use appears to be associated with a lower risk of common age-related cataracts, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin tracked 1,299 people in Beaver Dam, Wis., over five years for their incidence of nuclear cataracts, the most common type of age-related cataract. About 200 developed nuclear cataracts, with the rate being 12.2% in statin users vs. 17.2% in nonusers. When participants’ age was factored in, statin users were found to be 45% less likely to develop nuclear cataracts. Statins, widely prescribed for their lipid-lowering effects, also are thought to have antioxidant properties, and oxidative stress is believed to play a role in the development of nuclear cataracts. The findings came as a surprise to the researchers, since some cholesterol drugs may increase the risk of cataracts. But a researcher from the National Eye Institute, which helped fund the study, noted that information on duration of use or doses used is still needed before people can say for sure that statins fend off cataracts.