Statins May Cut Alzheimer's Disease
But Too Soon to Count on Cholesterol-Cutting Drugs to Prevent Alzheimer's, Researchers Say
Aug. 27, 2007 -- People who take cholesterol-cutting statin drugs may be
less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease brain abnormalities, a new study
Statins include the prescription drugs Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Altocor,
Pravachol, Zocor, and Crestor.
The study, published in tomorrow's edition of the journal Neurology,
doesn’t prove that statins prevent Alzheimer's disease.
Further studies should be done to directly test statins to prevent
Alzheimer's-related brain changes, notes University of Washington's Gail Li,
Li's team conducted brain autopsies on 110 people who died during a
long-term study of brain health.
Participants had enrolled in the study when they were at least 65 years old
(average age: 74). At the time, they had healthy minds.
Participants took mental skills tests every other year for up to eight
years. If they scored poorly on those tests, they were screened for
On average, participants died when they were in their late 70s to early
The researchers checked participants' medical records for statin
prescriptions, except for the statins Lescol and Crestor, which weren't
included in the data.
The brain autopsies showed that participants who had taken statins were 80%
less likely to have brain changes typical of Alzheimer's disease than those who
hadn't taken statins.
That figure is adjusted for risk factors including age, gender, and mental
skills test scores when the study began.
However, the researchers couldn't control for all influences, including the
possibility that participants in the frailest health were less likely to get
"Our findings should be extrapolated to living populations with the
greatest caution, if at all," Li's team warns.
In short, don't bank on statins for Alzheimer's prevention until more
research is done.