Scientists link high cholesterol to Alzheimer’s disease

Thursday, September 15th, 2011
Scientists in Japan have found people with high cholesterol levels may have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers at Kyushu University studied brain samples from 147 people, and compared them with cholesterol measurements that were taken 10-15 years before they died. They found those with higher cholesterol levels were more likely to have a protein called amyloid, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's, in their brains when they died.

All the participants were free from dementia when their cholesterol was checked, but the researchers found that when they died, 100 had evidence of amyloid in their brains. Fifty of the participants had also been diagnosed with a form of dementia before they died - mainly Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.
Their results are published in Neurology on September 13.

Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer's Research UK, the UK's leading dementia research charity, said:

"With 820,000 people affected by dementia, and the numbers set to grow, we urgently need to find conclusive risk factors, preventions and effective treatments if we are to head off a future crisis."

"Debate continues around the relationship between cholesterol and Alzheimer's, but this study does add further to the evidence of a link. This is important public health research, for which Alzheimer's and dementia pose huge threats. If we can determine the factors which increase the chances of dementia developing, we can empower people to take control of their personal risk.