Study: statin therapy associated with lower risk of pancreatitis

August 21, 2012

Although some studies have suggested that use of lipid-lowering therapies may increase the risk of pancreatitis, an analysis that involved pooling of data from previous studies and included more than 150,000 participants found that statin therapy was associated with a reduction in the risk of pancreatitis in patients with normal or mildly elevated triglyceride levels, according to an article in the August 22/29 issue of JAMA.

"Pancreatitis has a clinical spectrum ranging from a mild, self-limiting episode to a severe or fatal event. Case reports and pharmacoepidemiology studies have claimed that statins may cause pancreatitis, although few of these studies comprehensively considered confounding factors. Very few large of statin therapy have published data on incident pancreatitis," according to background information in the article. "Although guidelines recommend fibrate therapy to reduce pancreatitis risk in persons with hypertriglyceridemia, fibrates may lead to the development of , a risk factor for pancreatitis."

David Preiss, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the associations between use of a statin or a fibrate and the incidence of pancreatitis by conducting collaborative meta-analyses of published and unpublished data from large randomized clinical trials. The authors conducted a search of the to identify relevant studies for inclusion in the analysis.

In 16 - and standard care-controlled statin trials with 113,800 participants conducted over 4.1 years, 309 participants (0.27 percent) developed pancreatitis (134 assigned to statin, 175 assigned to control; a 23 percent lower risk of pancreatitis for those assigned to statin therapy). In 5 dose-comparison statin trials with 39,614 participants conducted over 4.8 years, 156 participants (0.39 percent) developed pancreatitis (70 assigned to intensive dose, 86 assigned to moderate dose; an 18 percent lower risk for the intensive dose group).

In the combined data set of 21 trials, 465 participants (0.30 percent) developed pancreatitis (of whom 204 were assigned to statin therapy or intensive-dose statin therapy and 261 were assigned to placebo, standard care, or moderate-dose statin therapy, respectively), a 21 percent lower risk.

Seven randomized clinical trials of fibrate therapy (4 with published data and 3 with unpublished data regarding incident pancreatitis) provided data on 40,162 participants over a weighted average follow-up period of 5.3 years. Baseline average triglyceride levels in the trials varied from 145 mg/dL to 184 mg/dL. During this time, 144 participants (0.36 percent) developed pancreatitis (84 assigned to fibrate therapy, 60 assigned to placebo), but the risk difference was not statistically significant.

"Although the present results for both statins and fibrates should be considered hypothesis-generating and the number of pancreatitis cases was small in this trial population at low risk of pancreatitis, the analysis raises questions regarding the choice of lipid-modifying agents in patients with hypertriglyceridemia. In those with slightly elevated , statins appear better supported by the available data than fibrates for preventing pancreatitis. Lifestyle modifications also remain important to improve lipid profiles in such individuals. In patients with severe hypertriglyceridemia, a trial comparing fibrates and statins for preventing pancreatitis would be clinically valuable," the authors write.

Explore further: Intensive-dose statin therapy associated with increased risk of diabetes

More information: JAMA. 2012;308[8]:804-811.

Related Stories

Intensive-dose statin therapy associated with increased risk of diabetes

June 21, 2011
An analysis of data from previously published studies indicates that intensive-dose statin therapy is associated with an increased risk of new-onset diabetes compared with moderate-dose therapy, according to a study in the ...

Non-HDL-C level associated with risk of major cardiovascular events among patients taking statins

March 27, 2012
Levels of non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C) among statin-treated patients appears to be associated with the risk of developing a major cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, as are levels ...

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.