WASHINGTON – A prescription for a statin was associated with about a 40% lower risk of new-onset inflammatory bowel disease in a study that evaluated data from a large U.S. health claims database over a 5-year period, Dr. Ryan Ungaro said at the annual Digestive Disease Week.
The protective effect was seen with different statins and was not associated with the intensity of statin treatment, said Dr. Ungaro, a gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York.
He and his associates conducted a case-control study by using a national medical claims and pharmacy database, identifying 87,579 patients aged 18 and older with an ICD-9 code for a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn’s disease (CD) from January 2008 through December 2012, and 189,526 controls (each case was matched with up to 10 controls, matched for age, gender, race, and state of residence). The median age of cases and controls was about 51 years, and about 41% were male. About 47% were diagnosed with CD, and about 44% were diagnosed with UC. A smaller group of patients who were new-onset cases were included who had at least 1 year with no IBD-related diagnostic code or prescription before the index diagnosis.
Statin use was associated with about a 40% reduced risk of new-onset IBD (odds ratio, 0.59), with similar trends for UC and CD, Dr. Ungaro reported. Separately, the risks of new-onset CD (OR, 0.55) and new-onset UC (OR, 0.62) associated with having a prescription for a statin were also significantly lower.
This association was maintained “regardless of which specific statin a patient was exposed to,” he noted. There was no significant difference in risk of IBD based on the intensity of statin treatment, according to American Heart Association guidelines for low-, moderate-, and high-intensity treatment.
Another finding was that the strongest protective effect was seen in older people, with an OR of 0.55 among those aged 60 years and older. There was no significant effect among those aged 18-30 years, but there were a limited number of statin prescriptions for younger patients, Dr. Ungaro noted.
Limitations of the study include the retrospective design, the inability to directly validate cases, and the reliance on a prescription as a surrogate for the patient actually taking the medication, he said.
Based on the results, “we think that future studies should confirm this protective effect, as well as continue to investigate statins in established IBD,” he concluded.
He referred to recent research demonstrating that statins have immunomodulatory effects “and may actually potentially be beneficial in established IBD.” In addition, a few clinical studies that have looked at the effects of statins in people with established IBD have found that statins are associated with a decreased need for oral steroids and may be associated with improvements in clinical indices and disease and inflammatory markers. Basic science studies indicate that statins are associated with amelioration of disease in mouse models of IBD, may decrease mediators of inflammation, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and may also suppress antigen presentation and T-cell proliferation, he noted.
Dr. Ungaro and his coauthors had no relevant financial disclosures.