Association Between Cholesterol, Statins and Parkinson's Tested

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Although prior studies suggested that statins may be neuroprotective against Parkinson's disease, a new study was unable to replicate the link.

Xuemei Huang, of Penn State College of Medicine, had in previous research claimed there was a link between high cholesterol and lower incidence of Parkinson's disease. Other studies reported a link between lowered Parkinson's incidence and use of statins, which lowers level of LDL cholesterol.

Huang attempted to test the association using subjects from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. After analyzing cholesterol levels, medication history, and Parkinson's symptoms, Huang concluded that high total cholesterol and LDL was associated with a lower risk of Parkinson's, however statins did not appear to protect against Parkinson's. In fact, the study found a link between long-term use of statins and elevated risk of Parkinson's disease.

In an attempt to explain the previous link found between statins and Parkinson's, Huang said once possibility is that statin use is a marker of people with high cholesterol, which as his latest study showed, may be associated with a lower risk of Parkinson's.

The researchers suggest that more studies be done on the association between cholesterol and Parkinson's, as well as the relationship between statin use and Parkinson's. Notably, statins reduce coenzyme Q10, which produces energy for cells and is believed to have protective qualities for nerves. A reduction in this compound may be behind the elevated risk for Parkinson's.

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Association Between Cholesterol, Statins and Parkinson's Tested

Previously, some studies have found that the cholesterol-lowering medications statins may offer protective benefits against Parkinson's disease. However, a new study led by researchers at Penn State College of Medicine and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences was unable to reproduce this association.

About 1 million people in the US are currently affected by Parkinson's disease. The causes of Parkinson's are unknown, but scientists know that damage to neurons that produce dopamine eventually results in the movement disorders characteristic of this neurodegenerative brain disease.

Xuemei Huang, professor of neurology and vice chair for research at Penn State College of Medicine, had found in previous research an association between high blood cholesterol levels and lower incidence of Parkinson's.

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