"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

June 01, 2005

High Cholesterol: Bad? Good? Arrrgh!

High Cholesterol Levels in Elderly Linked to Lower Dementia Risk

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) May 31 - High cholesterol levels in later life appear to be associated with a reduced risk of dementia, according to the results of a new study, which conflict with the findings of previous reports that found an increased dementia risk linked with high cholesterol in middle age.

Dr. Michelle M. Mielke, of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and colleagues examined the association between total cholesterol and triglyceride levels and incident dementia in Sweden. The researchers conducted neuropsychiatric, anthropometric, laboratory, and other assessments for 382 individuals who were part of a 1901 to 1902 birth cohort. The results are published in the May 24th issue of Neurology.

The subjects were followed for 4091 person-years. During this time, 93 developed incident dementia. The team observed an association between increasing cholesterol levels (per mmol/L) at age 70 (hazard ratio [HR] 0.77; p = 0.02) and a lower risk of dementia between ages 79 and 88 years. Increasing cholesterol levels at ages 75 (HR 0.70) and 79 (HR 0.73) were also significantly linked to a reduced dementia risk. No association was found between triglyceride levels and dementia.

"If high cholesterol plays a protective role against dementia in the elderly, then the risk-benefit ratio of lowering cholesterol in this population may need to be reevaluated," Dr. Mielke's team reports. "If, conversely, high cholesterol is merely a marker of robustness in the elderly, then this may also be important because it could help us to identify what makes these individuals invulnerable to developing dementia and other illness," they add.

Neurology 2005;64:1689-1695.

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