Despite earlier research arguing that a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins may also lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD), a new study claims that the evidence supporting that finding is inconclusive.
Xuemei Huang, MD, PhD, of the Penn State College of Medicine, and colleagues, looked at cholesterol levels in the blood, medication, and Parkinson’s status in patients taking part in the ongoing, long-term Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.
Huang and his team had previously reported an association between high blood cholesterol levels and a lower incidence of Parkinson’s. Other studies found that the use of statins has been associated with a lower incidence of Parkinson’s. Statins are designed to lower levels of LDL, better known as “bad cholesterol.”
However, Huang says that those studies failed to account for cholesterol levels prior to the widespread use of statins. He and his team’s new findings were published in the journal Movement Disorders.
“We confirmed our previous finding that high total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol were associated with a lower risk of PD,” Huang said in a statement. “Moreover, statin use over the course of the study did not protect against PD, and in fact appeared to increase PD risk in the long term.”
Huang noted that statin use might be a marker of people with high cholesterol, a condition in itself that associated with a lower PD risk. This might explain why some studies have associated statin use with a lower incidence of PD.
“Although some have proposed that statins might be a 'cure-all' drug, this might be a case where what’s good for the heart isn't good for the brain,” Huang added.
The use of statins may not be associated with lowering risk for Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to a new study led by researchers at Penn State College of Medicine and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The findings cast doubts on reports suggesting that the cholesterol-lowering medications may protect against this neurodegenerative brain disorder.
Xuemei Huang, professor of neurology and vice chair for research, Penn State College of Medicine, previously reported an association between high blood cholesterol levels and lower incidence of PD. A low incidence of heart attack and stroke in PD patients in movement disorder clinics, despite their usually advanced age motivated these studies. Other studies also reported similar findings.