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Research Links Low HDL Levels With Memory Loss
Date:6/30/2008

But experts aren't ready to embrace the findings as fact

MONDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- A new study suggests an association between low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and loss of memory.

The study, which has followed thousands of British civil servants for decades, found a 27 percent increased loss of memory on a word test for those at age 55 with the lowest HDL levels, compared to those with the highest levels. By age 60, the rate of memory loss had increased to 53 percent, the study found.

"Our results show HDL cholesterol to be important for memory," study author Archana Singh-Manoux said in a prepared statement. "Thus, physicians and patients should be encouraged to monitor levels of HDL cholesterol."

The findings of the study, funded in part by the U.S. government, are published in the July 1 issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

The researchers measured HDL cholesterol levels and gave short-term verbal memory tests to 3,673 participants, one quarter of them women, between 1995 and 1997 and again between 2002 and 2004. Participants whose HDL levels decreased during the five years between tests had a 61 percent increased risk of declining ability to remember words, the study found.

No link was found between total cholesterol and other blood fat levels and memory loss. Using statins to lower blood levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol had no effect on memory loss.

In an accompanying editorial, Anatol Kontush, research director at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM), the French equivalent of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said the study results should be approached with caution.

"At this point I would be very cautious. The biochemistry underlying HDL and brain function is completely unclear," said Kontush.

Conversely, the relationship between HDL and LDL cholesterol levels and cardiovascula
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