ADA: Fibrates and Statins Keep Diabetic Neuropathy at Bay

June 27, 2007

CHICAGO -- Statins can cut the risk of peripheral neuropathy from type 2 diabetes by a third, and fibrates can do it by nearly half, reported Australian investigators here.

CHICAGO, June 27 -- Statins can cut the risk of peripheral neuropathy from type 2 diabetes by a third, and fibrates can do it by nearly half, reported Australian investigators here.

Among nearly 1,300 patients with type 2 diabetes who were part of a longitudinal study, statins were associated with reduced risk of peripheral sensory neuropathy by 35%, and fibrates by 45%, said Timothy Davis, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Western Australia, in Perth.

The reduced risk associated with the two lipid-lowering classes should be considered comparable, because of the wide confidence intervals involved, said Dr. Davis at the American Diabetes Association meeting here.

Dr. Davis and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study of 1,294 patients enrolled in the Fremantle Diabetes Study, a five-year prospective study, and also evaluated 531 patients in the study who had attended six comprehensive annual assessments.

They defined neuropathy as a score greater than two out of eight on the clinical portion of the Michigan Neuropathy Screening Instrument, which, according to Dr. Davis, is among the most sensitive and specific of the clinical screening tools.

The mean age of the patients in the cross-sectional sample was 64.1+11.3 years and 48.8% were men. The median duration since diagnosis was 4.0 (range 1.0-9.0) years, and 30.9% of the patients had peripheral neuropathy.

In all, 3.5% of the patients used fibrates -- gemfibrozil (Lopid) at study outset, and later fenofibrate (Lofibra) -- and 6.8% used statins, including atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor), and pravastatin (Pravachol).

The authors found that in logistic regression analyses, many different factors were independently and positively associated (P