Stop Press: Statins ‘Cure’ Alzheimer’s?

You’ve seen this headline splashed all over the news recently: “Statins cure Alzheimer’s”.

This is the claim made by the mainstream media, based on the results of a new major study, published in the journal JAMA Neurology

Even the lead researcher, Dr Julie Zissimopoulos, proclaimed: “We may not need to wait for a cure to make a difference for patients currently at risk of the disease… We looked to statins as a candidate because they are widely used and have resulted in the reduction of cholesterol.”

Risky business

That’s a big claim… and I’m really sorry to say, but it should be taken with a whole bag of salt, not just a pinch.

First of all the results of this recent study are based on data collected from Medicare — US medical insurance that covers 93 per cent of the US population 65 years or older… so it all boils down to numbers showing trends on paper.

Second, in 2012 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may increase the risk of memory loss. These warnings were issued based on the results of numerous studies that involved real patient outcomes as well as consumer reports.

So, forgive me if I’m a bit dim here, but isn’t memory loss one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s… or am I the only one that is getting a bit confused?

Statins reduce cholesterol. That we all know.

However, cholesterol is an essential building block in our bodies and can be found in every cell of your body. It is essential for cell membrane formation, hormone synthesis and it plays an essential role in brain function.

In fact, your brain is nothing more than a big lump of fat…

So, taking a drug that reduces your cholesterol to ridiculously low levels cannot be good for your overall health… and most certainly not for your brain. This means that statins could be particularly problematic for individuals who have compromised brain function to begin with, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2012, researchers looked at a group of elderly patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease who were all taking statins at the start of the study. The research involved taking these individuals off statins for 6 weeks, and then putting individuals back on their statin medication for another 6 weeks.

During the study, individuals had their mental functioning assessed including with a tool known as the ‘mini mental state examination’ (MMSE). This test is designed to assess brain functions such as memory, the production and understanding of language, problem-solving and decision-making – what doctors often refer to as ‘cognition’.

The researchers found that withdrawal of statins led to a statistically significant improvement in cognition. Re-starting statin therapy led to a worsening of cognition. The researchers concluded that statin drugs negatively affected memory and cognitive function for individuals with dementia.

Do I need to say more? Apart from the fact that this study actually involved people and showed cause and effect.

But it’s not just me who is raising eyebrows about the statins Alzheimer’s cure claim…

Commenting on the results of Dr. Zissimopoulos’s study, Dr Rosa Sancho, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “These types of studies identify important trends, but cannot allow researchers to conclude a causal relationship between statin use and Alzheimer’s risk.”

You betcha!

And if you have any more doubts, especially if you are an elderly patient who is taking statin drugs, read Dr Duane Graveline’s book, ‘Lipitor: Thief of Memory and the Statin Damage Crisis‘. It will tell you about the devastating effect these drugs can have on your brain and precious memories.

If you ask me, statins could be the exact opposite of an Alzheimer’s cure.

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Sex and Race Differences in the Association Between Statin Use and the Incidence of Alzheimer Disease, JAMA Neurol. Published online December 12, 2016

Could statins be the miracle cure for Alzheimer’s? Taking the tablets for just 2 years reduces the risk by up to 15%, 12.12.16,

Padala KP, et al. The Effect of HMG: CoA Reductase Inhibitors on Cognition in Patients With Alzheimer’s Dementia: A Prospective Withdrawal and Rechallenge Pilot Study. Am J Geriatr Pharmacother. 2012 Aug 22. [Epub ahead of print]