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Statins linked to reduced Alzheimer’s risk

28th August 2007

Drugs used to lower cholesterol in people at risk of heart disease may also help to reduce the brain changes which signal Alzheimer’s disease, according to scientists.

Previous research has suggested this link before and now a new study, comparing for the first time the brains of people who had received statins with those who had not, appears to prove the connection.

Scientists from the University of Washington School of Medicine studied 110 brains donated for research from people aged over 65.

Causes of Alzheimer’s disease include the build-up of ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ in the brain.

After taking variables including age and gender into account, the researchers found significantly fewer tangles in the brains of people who had taken statins than those who had not.

“These results are exciting, novel and have important implications for prevention strategies,” said senior co-author Dr Eric Larson.

But he warned that the results need to be confirmed in further studies including randomised control trials.

Dr Gail Li, the study’s lead author, commented: “People with Alzheimer’s are diverse. Statins are probably more likely to help prevent the disease in certain kinds of people than others.

“Someday we may be able to know more precisely which individuals will benefit from which types of statins for preventing the changes of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Over 700,000 people in the UK are thought to have dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being one of the most common forms.

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