"In the brain, we are far from that understanding," Kontush said. "We need much more basic information before going in to modify levels."
The most important first step is "just to confirm this observation," Kontush said. Data from such population studies "can lead in completely wrong directions," he said.
The statement by Singh-Manoux, who is a senior research fellow with INSERM and University College London, discussed a possible cause of the relationship seen in the study. HDL cholesterol could affect formation of the amyloid plaque that clogs brains of Alzheimer's patients, she said.
Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the Mayo Clinic and vice chair of the Alzheimer's Association's medical and scientific advisory council, was as cautious as Kontush.
"In a general sense, other data are converging to indicate that managing vascular risk factors may be helpful in Alzheimer's disease," Petersen said. "This is supportive of that. But at the same time, we have to be very cautious about whether there is a direct link between HDL and mental function."
You can learn more about good and bad cholesterol from the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Anatol Kontush, Ph.D, research director, INSERM, Paris; Ronald Petersen, M.D., director, Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Rochester, Minn.; July 1, 2008, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology
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