Older men and women with high cholesterol run a significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD), dementia, and heart disease, according to new findings from the famous Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts.
Just how many more studies like this do we need before doctors stop placing their patients on cholesterol-lowering statin drugs?
As I often report, your brain needs cholesterol. It enables signal transport across the synapses — a critical, ongoing brain function.
As for long-term benefits, cholesterol keeps the myelin sheath around nerve cells healthy. The myelin sheath is a fatty layer that insulates each and every nerve cell. And without healthy myelin, the nerve cells in your brain and body can’t communicate with each other!
Therefore, as any Biology 101 student could probably surmise, artificially lowering cholesterol with statin drugs does not benefit brain health. Much less heart health or overall health.
These drugs also cause a slew of side effects — ranging from muscle weakness to cataracts to memory problems. And now that people have been on these drugs for decades, we are learning about more of their long-term hazards. (The early studies on statins weren’t long enough to reveal all the drugs’ longer-term hazards.) In fact, newer research links statins with increased risks of dementia, Type II diabetes, and possibly even cancer, as I reported recently.
Despite these findings, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association want more people on statins…
In fact, in November 2013, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association issued new statin drug guidelines. They now recommend statin drug treatment for anyone who has more than a 7.5 percent risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke over the next decade, which, eventually, could mean just about everyone.
It’s what happens when doctors look down a microscope at a tiny little part of the science and ignore the bigger picture. And it’s not much of a loss for them, considering how statin drugs have been the most profitable prescription in history for big pharma.
New study underscores benefits of cholesterol
In the new study I mentioned a moment ago, researchers followed men and women ages 85 to 94 who were part of the famous Framingham Heart study. Each of the participants started the study with good cognitive function.
Turns out, those with “high” cholesterol levels had a 32 percent lower risk of cognitive decline over the next 10 years. They were also less likely to have heart disease.
Of course, the researchers claimed their findings were “counter-intuitive.” (Not to me. As I see it, the findings are exactly as should be predicted.) “High” cholesterol reduces the risk of mental decline in older people.
They even claimed some unspecified, magical, “other factors” must protect these mentally healthy older people with high cholesterol. Astoundingly, these researchers seem to want you to stay on statin drugs forever and ever, despite their own data.
I prefer to stick with the actual data — from this study, and others before it, with similar findings.
Thankfully, these days, more people — and physicians — have a growing awareness that lowering cholesterol is not be the end-all and be-all of heart health, overall health, or longevity.
In fact, good primary care physicians — like the quarter million members of the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians — recognize they should cut back and even stop statin drug treatments for blood pressure, Type II diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions in older patients.
Gerontologists also conclude patients over 70 don’t need to take statin drugs. We should listen to these good physicians who look at the whole patient. Not just the results of one blood test.
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1. “Outcome age-based prediction of successful cognitive aging by total cholesterol,” Alzheimer’s & Dementia (www.alzheimersanddementia.com) 3/4/2018