Taking a statin may protect against developing inflammatory bowel disease, a US study suggests.

People on statins had a 30% lower risk of new onset IBD than matched people who were not taking the lipid-lowering drugs, report researchers from Mount Sinai school of medicine in New York.

Statin use was associated with significantly lower risk of IBD as a whole, and appeared to be most beneficial at preventing Crohn’s disease, particularly in people aged over 60, the authors say.

The effect seemed to be much the same regardless of the statin used or its dose, they add. The only question mark was whether there was an effect for rosuvastatin and lovastatin in ulcerative colitis.

The large retrospective study is the first to suggest a protective effect of the widely-used medications in IBD, although there is thought to be a similar effect in rheumatoid arthritis, the authors note.

Statins are known to have anti-inflammatory effects, and this could underlie a potential mechanism for the reduction in new-onset IBD, the authors suggest.

Nearly 10,000 cases of new onset IBD from a large medical claims and pharmacy database were matched with about 47,000 controls in the study.

Prospective studies are now needed to confirm the association, they conclude.

Last Reviewed: 17/06/2016