MONDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- People taking popular
cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins may have a slightly lower
risk than others of developing Parkinson's disease, new research
This effect may be even more pronounced among people younger
than 60, according to the study published in the March issue of
Archives of Neurology.
However, the risk reduction was modest and may have been due to
chance, the authors said, noting that more research is warranted,
especially because statins can cause adverse side effects.
"There is no clear verdict," said Dr. Stuart Isaacson, director of the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center of Boca Raton, who was not involved in the study.
"Right now we don't have any good evidence that there is anything we can do to reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, but research is ongoing," added Isaacson, also an associate professor of neurology at Florida International University's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in Miami.
For the study, researchers led by Dr. Xiang Gao, of Brigham and
Women's Hospital and Harvard University School of Public Health in
Boston, analyzed data on more than 38,000 men and almost 91,000
women enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the
Nurses' Health Study in 1994.
During 12 years of follow-up, 644 people were diagnosed with
Parkinson's disease. People taking cholesterol-lowering drugs,
especially those younger than 60, were less likely to develop the
neurological disorder than those not using cholesterol drugs, the
Nearly one million people in the United States have Parkinson's
disease, a chronic and progressive movement disorder, and no one
knows what causes it.
The researchers can't say exactly how -- or even if -- statins
reduce the risk of Parkinson's. It's thought these drugs may have
potent anti-inflammatory effects, which could protect the
The study had some limitations, the authors acknowledged. For
example, only about 70 percent of people who were taking drugs to
lower cholesterol were actually on statins at the study's
Dr. Roy Alcalay, an assistant professor of neurology at Columbia
University Medical Center in New York City, said it is way too
early to say that statins lower risk for Parkinson's disease. "This
is a promising avenue for future research," said Alcalay, an
advisor for the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.
But there is some good news, he added. The data are compelling
evidence that statins are not detrimental for people with or at
risk of Parkinson's disease, he said. There was a concern that
statins could be harmful as they might lower the level of coenzyme
Q10 in the blood. Co-Q10, an antioxidant, is thought to have
benefits for people with Parkinson's disease.
"If you need to be on statins for your heart, it is not going to increase your risk for Parkinson's," Alcalay said.
Learn more about Parkinson's disease and its symptoms at the
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