July 18, 2007
Simvastatin Cuts Alzheimers And Parkinsons By Half

Cholesterol lowering statin drug simvastatin appears to cut the risk of degenerative neurological disorders Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease by nearly half.

Boston, MA -- Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that the statin, simvastatin, reduces the incidence of Alzheimerís disease and Parkinsonís disease by almost 50 percent. This is the first study to suggest that statins might reduce the incidence of Parkinsonís disease. These findings, will be published in the July online open access journal BioMed Central (BMC) Medicine.

Alzheimerís disease or dementia is one of the major public health threats that individuals face as they age. Statins are a class of medications that reduce cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase.

The researchers examined data from the Decision Support System database of the United States Veterans Affairs Medical System, a database of medical centers throughout the United States which contains diagnostic, pharmaceutical and demographic information on approximately 4.5 millions people.

Using three different models for analysis, the researchers examined the effects of three different statins (atorvastatin, lovastatin and simvastatin) and found that simvastatin showed a strong reduction in the incidence of Alzheimerís disease in each of the models. The data also showed the same statin was associated with a reduced incidence of Parkinsonís disease.

The researchers speculate that the selective benefit observed with simvastatin might be due to the combination of high potency and the ability to enter the brain.

Might the disease risk reduction come as a side effect of lowering cholesterol? That mechanism of action would tend to slow the accumulation of plaque in arteries in the brain. But the other statins did not yield as big a benefit. This suggests that even those of us with low cholesterol might derive benefit from taking simvastatin.

If you are taking Zocor, Lipex, or a generic equivalent then you are taking simvastatin. Mevacor and Altocor are simvastatin brand names. Also, Lipitor and Torvast are atorvastatin brand names. My guess is that they didn't study Crestor because it is relatively newer and without as many long term users.

A much larger number of simvastatin users was used in this study.

An international team led by Benjamin Wolozin, MD, at Boston University School of Medicine used data from the US Veterans Affairs Database, which contains diagnostic, medication and demographic information on 4.5 million subjects. The researchers used statistical models to compare different statins, looking at data on over 700,000 simvastatin users and more than 50,000 atorvastatin users. The team targeted those aged 65 or over with no prior diagnosis of Alzheimerís disease, who had been taking statins for at least seven months.

The researchers found that for subjects aged 65 and over, simvastatin was linked with a significantly reduced number of cases of dementia and Parkinson's disease". The researchers also made the surprising finding that not all statins are equal when it comes to dementia or Parkinsonís disease. A small reduction in dementia cases was seen among those who regularly take atorvastatin, which did not reach a level of statistical significance. Lovastatin was not found to have any significant effect on dementia, and neither atorvastatin nor lovastatin were associated with a reduction in the number of cases of Parkinsonís disease.

Statins might reduce Alzheimer's and Parkinson's risks by anti-inflammatory effects. Statins might change the rate of cellular beta amyloid synthesis or secretion. Though the evidence is not clear.

Since brain aging is the hardest part of aging to reverse any treatments that slow down the rate of brain aging and degeneration have great value. We need to keep our brains alive while waiting for the gene therapies, cell therapies, and nanodevice therapies that will allow us to turn back the biological clock on brain aging processes.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 July 18 11:22 PM  Brain Aging

JEmerson said at July 19, 2007 2:40 AM:

Very interesting. Alzheimer's is one of those diseases scary enough, and seemingly inevitable enough, that I'm willing to grasp at almost any straw. Has there been any noticeable correlation between cholesterol levels and incidence of either disease in the past? It seems like something which should have shown up pretty quickly in any metaanalysis.

Brett Bellmore said at July 19, 2007 9:12 AM:

Hm; Since I got my weight down, my cholesterol has been at the upper end of acceptable, and my last EBT scan showed me in good shape, but this might just tip the scales in favor of trying the stuff.

rsilvetz said at July 19, 2007 2:35 PM:

You can't escape: Go for the tri-pill if you are 50 or older. Lower the blood pressure. Lower the cholesterol (not an optimal strategy but it works). Lower the glycation effects via lower blood sugars. Do it and watch the compounding effect add quality years to your life.

Brett Bellmore said at July 20, 2007 4:23 AM:

"Lower the blood pressure."

Ah, no, I'm one of those people with low blood pressure naturally; Aging has merely spared me all the pretty sparkles when I stand up suddenly, by raising my blood pressure into the triple digits. Got a duo pill in your little bag?

Rob said at November 14, 2010 9:16 AM:

One correction: you stated "Mevacor and Altocor are simvastatin brand names." They are brand names for lovastatin, which did not provide this potential benefit.

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