Final answer may depend on outcomes of ongoing clinical trials, expert says
THURSDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Despite some reports that statins might slow or prevent Alzheimer's disease, a new study finds no evidence for the theory.
While some animal studies have suggested this possibility, whether the same benefit translates to humans hasn't been clear, the researchers said.
"We didn't find a relation between statin use and the risk of Alzheimer's disease or a decline in thinking ability," said lead researcher Dr. Zoe Arvanitakis, an associate professor of neurology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
In addition, brain autopsies found no effect of statins on the two main causes of dementia, Alzheimer's and stroke, Arvanitakis said.
In the study, Arvanitakis' team collected data on 929 Catholic clergy who took part in the Religious Orders Study, which looks at aging and Alzheimer's disease. At the start of the study, all the participants were around 75 years old and had no signs of dementia. All had a brain autopsy after death, and each had yearly cognitive exams for up to 12 years.
The findings were published in the Jan. 16 online edition of Neurology.
When the study started, 119 people were taking statins. Over the 12 years of the study, 191 people developed Alzheimer's. Of these, only 16 had been taking statins.
Moreover, brain autopsies on more than 250 people who died during the study failed to find any evidence that taking statins had an effect on pathology of Alzheimer's disease or strokes, the scientists found.
"This study adds to the growing evidence that statins don't lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease," Arvanitakis said.
However, one expert thinks this study is not conclusive, and clinical trials that are under way should provide a definitive answer on the issue. "We will see the results of these trials fairly soon,"
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