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Statins Active Against Gum Disease
October 9, 2013

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - High doses of medicine used to lower cholesterol levels also may work against gum disease, a study finds.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School did the study. It included 59 people. All had heart disease or were at high risk for it. They were randomly assigned to take either 80 milligrams (mg) or 10 mg of atorvastatin (Lipitor). This is one of a class of drugs called statins. They are prescribed to treat high cholesterol. They also reduce inflammation.

After 12 weeks, the people in the 80-mg group had less gum inflammation than those in the 10-mg group. People in the 80-mg group also had reductions in artery inflammation.

This is one of the first studies to find that statins reduce gum inflammation. A study out of India, published in July 2013, found that people taking statins had lower levels of a protein called IL-1-beta in the fluid between the gums and teeth. This protein indicates the presence of inflammation.

Periodontal (gum) disease and heart disease both stem from inflammation. Other studies have linked the two conditions.

The 80-mg dose is the highest approved dose for atorvastatin. The recommended starting dose is 10 mg to 20 mg.

The study appears in the October 2 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. It was published online September 23.

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