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Is dementia risk reduced by the use of statins? The Alzheimer’s Society comments

Monday 12 December 2016

New research suggesting that the use of cholesterol-lowering statins may be associated with a reduced risk of dementia, has attracted quite a lot of media attention. The Alzheimer’s Society (UK) has commented on this research, emphasising that the effects were dependent on a person’s gender and ethnicity and that dementia risk also varied by type of statin used. The results, published online in the journal JAMA Neurology on 12 December 2016, still need to be confirmed in clinical trials, the Society stressed.

Commenting on the research, Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at the Alzheimer’s Society said:  

“Previous research has attempted to find out whether using statins to lower cholesterol can alter a person’s risk of developing dementia but these studies have produced mixed findings. This new study goes some way towards clearing up this confusion by analysing large amounts of existing data of people who use different types of statins over a long period of time. Their refreshing approach highlights that ‘one size fits all’ is not always a suitable approach to healthcare and this is likely to be the case when it comes to ways people can reduce their risk of dementia. However, their data does not provide direct evidence that statins can influence dementia risk - this question will need to be answered by clinical trials. 

“The results found cannot yet be applied to the doctor’s surgery, but could be used to improve the design of clinical trials that can help to answer the complicated questions around statin use and dementia risk.

“Currently there is not enough evidence that statin use can reduce your risk of dementia, but you should keep an eye on your cholesterol levels as keeping them in check will help to combat other conditions such as heart disease and stroke. We advise people to speak to their GP if they have any questions about cholesterol, statin use and dementia risk before making any decisions about their medications.”

Link to original study: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/article-abstract/2591317  

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