People who take the cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins may reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by nearly 80%. Statins have been proved to offer powerful protection against heart disease for people with high blood cholesterol. The findings provide the strongest evidence to date that statin drugs may also help protect people from Alzheimer's disease.
An earlier, smaller study had suggested these drugs might offer some protection against Alzheimer's disease. Green and his colleagues decided to do a large study that included 988 people with Alzheimer's disease and 1,669 healthy family members, who acted as controls. The researchers took into account age and other factors that put people at risk and still found that the statins offered a mighty shield against the Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers speculate that statins may reduce the brain's production of beta-amyloid, a protein thought to cause Alzheimer's disease. But there's also a possibility that statins might help slow the memory loss and other symptoms in people who already have the disease. Studies to test that theory are under way.