Statins and Fibrates Help Stop Peripheral Neuropathy in Type 2 Diabetes

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Peripheral neuropathy (limb nerve damage) eventually afflicts fifty percent of people with diabetes; worse still, it leads to an amputation every fifty seconds world-wide. At the moment, nothing is approved in the U.S. to treat peripheral neuropathy, only to alleviate the pain that it causes. That might change soon, however.

A large eight-year study out of the University of Western Australia indicates that statins (like Lipitor) and fibrates (like Lopid and TriCor) can reduce risk of peripheral neuropathy. Of course, statins and fibrates are already being prescribed to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and protect against heart attack and stroke.

But the Australian researchers found that statins also reduced risk of peripheral neuropathy by 35 percent and fibrates by 48 percent (essentially equivalent numbers in the murky world of statistics).

Even better, the researchers believe that the two classes of drugs may work through different mechanisms, so taking both a fibrate and a statin might have twice the beneficial effect on neuropathy of taking either one alone. How they do the job isn’t yet understood, but it is hypothesized that statins, at least, reduce both inflammation and oxidative stress.

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Source: 67th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association

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