Taking cholesterol-lowering statins may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, a study has suggested for the first time, according to a report in the Times of London.
Researchers in the U.S. released a study Monday claiming to have uncovered clear evidence that the drugs could ward off the illness. The large-scale study, conducted at Boston University, found that the drugs may cut the risk of getting Alzheimer’s by as much as 79 percent, even in people thought to be genetically susceptible to the disease. The lead author, Gail Li, said the study was the first to compare the brains of people who had received statins with those who had not.
Previous research has indicated that Alzheimer’s may be caused by poor blood flow and vascular changes in the brain, which statins may help to prevent. Li, from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, and her colleagues examined the brains of 110 people who had died between the ages of 65 and 79, and had donated their organs for research.
The two changes in the brain considered the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s are known as brain “plaques” and “tangles”. These are protein deposits that appear to spread in the brain, although the cause of Alzheimer’s is not yet fully understood.
The researchers found significantly fewer tangles in the brains of people who had taken statins than those who had not, even allowing for variables such as age, gender and past health.