New study reaffirms Parkinson's, cholesterol link

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Washington, Apr 6 : A study by researchers at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found new evidence reaffirming the finding that people with low LDL cholesterol may be at greater risk for developing Parkinson's disease.

This research, led by Dr. Xuemei Huang, has found that low LDL levels were present in a group of men of Japanese ancestry long before these men were diagnosed with Parkinson's.

"This finding gives us one more piece in the puzzle about the role of cholesterol in Parkinson's disease. What makes these results especially useful is the fact that most of the men in this study were not taking cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins. This suggests that the association between low LDL levels and Parkinson's exists independently from statin use, which helps answer another important question raised by our earlier study," said Huang.

Low levels of LDL cholesterol is linked to good cardiovascular health and this study highlighted that people with low LDL are at a greater risk for developing Parkinson's.

"Our study again shows an association between low cholesterol and the risk of Parkinson's disease, but we have not shown cause and effect. People taking statins for valid medical reasons should not stop simply to avoid Parkinson's," said Huang.

In the study, the researchers measured fasting lipids from 1991 to 1993 in a group of 3,233 men of Japanese ancestry who took part in a long-running study called the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. These data were collected before statin therapy for lowering cholesterol was widely available. After a 10 year follow up, it was found that the incidence of Parkinson's disease increased with decreasing levels of LDL cholesterol.

When the researchers adjusted their statistical analysis for age, smoking, coffee intake and other factors, they calculated that the relative odds of Parkinson's for men with lower LDL levels (85 milligrams per deciliter) was about twice that of those with higher LDL levels (135 milligrams per deciliter).

Thus they came to a conclusion that this study holds up the hypothesis that low LDL levels are linked to an increased risk of Parkinson's in future.

The study was published online by the journal Movement Disorders.

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