“Good” Cholesterol Can Protect Against Alzheimer’s Onset

Researchers at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons studied 1,130 people over the age of 65 and determined that so-called “good” cholesterol can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.   In the study, the researchers recorded baseline measurements of the participants’ cholesterol levels and their neurological status.  Additionally, they determined if the seniors had a certain mutation in their APOE genes that might increase their risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

All volunteers were monitored for four years.  In that time, 89 of the study participants were diagnosed as having “probable” Alzheimer’s; another 12 had “possible” Alzheimer’s.  When comparing the participants with the lowest levels of high-density lipoprotein – the so-called “good” cholesterol, also known as HDL – the volunteers with the highest levels were 60 percent less likely to have a probable or even possible case of Alzheimer’s.

In completing their analysis, the researchers took into accounts age, gender, body-mass index, education and ethnic group.  Another point under consideration was the type of APOE gene,  as well as their general health or the presence of heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

The results are not unexpected, given that high levels of good cholesterol already have been associated with a lesser risk of carotid artery atheroschlerosis — which can lead to cognitive impairment – and strokes.

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