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Statins and Alzheimer's
JAB
Posted: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 1:44 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 740


A number of epidemiological studies (although not all of them) have concluded that the incidence of Alzheimer's is lower in people who use statins.  Accordingly, clinical trials were initiated to determine whether statins may be beneficial to Alzheimer's patients.

The results from the first two trials to be completed, on atorvastatin and simvastatin, indicate statins do not produce any benefits for people with Alzheimer's.  See:
http://alzres.com/content/4/1/3/abstract

Wolozin -- who headed the team that first identified the possible link between statins and reduced incidence of AD -- notes:

"However, epidemiology is meant to generate hypotheses but does not prove efficacy. The critical test comes with prospective clinical trials. The first major prospective clinical trial of a statin, the Lipitor’s Effect in Alzheimer Dementia (LEADe) study of atorvastatin, gave the first sign that the data suggested from epidemiological studies do not translate to prospective clinical trials [12]. Next, a trial run by Sano and colleagues [13] presented further results, this time with simvastatin, for lack of protection against the progression of cognitive decline among subjects with AD. The results from the study by Sano and colleagues show a strikingly null effect; the placebo and treatment groups are practically identical..."

12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20200346

13. http://www.pdf-archive.com/2011/11/05/a-randomized-double-blind-placebo-controlled-trial-to-ad/a-randomized-double-blind-placebo-controlled-trial-to-ad.pdf

KML
Posted: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 3:56 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105


I thought I remembered something about statins not being good for people with AD.  Maybe I'm getting things mixed up.  My doctor would love to put me on statins since diet and exercise are doing minimal to get my cholesterol levels down.  I keep resisting the medication because of risks.  I am confused what direction to head in.

 

 


Lane Simonian
Posted: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 11:00 PM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 4632


At one time the use of statins was hailed as a possible means to prevent Alzheimer's disease.  As JAB notes, the clinical trials have not shown this to be the case.   I am not sure if they harm someone with Alzheimer's disease, but I don't believe they help either.  In some cases, it has been reported that statins impaired memory in otherwise healthy individuals.  Statins have on rare occasions also caused mitochondrial dysfunction.  Statins are often considered to be a drug free of side effects, but as you know that is not the case.  I am not advising you to avoid using statins, but do as you are doing and carefully research and evaluate all the risk factors and all possible ways to increase high density lipids without statin use.
KML
Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 4:18 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105


Lane:

 

Thank you for your reply.  I appreciate it.


Lane Simonian
Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 7:42 PM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 4632


You are welcome, KML.  Here's a rather lengthy article on the possible risk factors posed by statins. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2849981/
JAB
Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 12:36 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 740


Lane Simonian wrote:
At one time the use of statins was hailed as a possible means to prevent Alzheimer's disease.  As JAB notes, the clinical trials have not shown this to be the case.
 

 

 That is not what I noted.

 

No clinical trials have refuted the possible link observed in the epidemiological studies.

 

The epidemiological studies imply that taking statins might be a way to help avoid developing Alzheimer's.

 

The clinical trials were designed to determine whether statins might be beneficial for treating patients who already have Alzheimer's.  Neither showed any benefits.

 

There is a huge difference between preventing a disease and treating it.



Lane Simonian
Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 2:15 PM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 4632


Point well-taken.
Lane Simonian
Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 3:54 PM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 4632


Here is a relatively recent negative review of the use of statins in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.  The studies in regards to the lack of effectiveness in the use of statins to treat Alzheimer's disease is at this point stronger than the lack of effectiveness in statins in preventing Alzheimer's disease.

http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD003160/there-good-evidence-that-statins-given-in-late-life-to-individuals-at-risk-of-vascular-disease-have-no-effect-in-preventing-dementia 


JohnG
Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 1:13 PM
Joined: 8/6/2014
Posts: 2


I have been reading lately on the different views of statins with respect to alzheimers as well as other side effects (possible kidney damage, muscle pain, etc.) Also reading on the broader discussion of what high cholesterol really is and what the effects are. Lots more conversations on the politics of pharmaceuticals and the evils of money, but that aside, I am going to look at when my mother started on her statin medications and see if there is a correlation to when she started having memory issues. She has also had kidney problems recently as well. If I see anything that hints at a link, I will ask her doctor if we can take her off the statin medication for a period of time to see the effect, if any. I will try and keep everyone up to date.


Has anyone else considered or researched the potential impact of all these medications on these types of diseases? Anyone with any stories on the effects of changing or stopping certain medications?


Lane Simonian
Posted: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 11:34 AM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 4632


Welcome, JohnG.  I hope that you are still here.  In the last few years, I have read a little more about statins and memory loss but do not have a firm conclusion.  One of the main dangers posed by statins is that it lowers coenzyme q10 levels and this can lead to many serious diseases. 


 

A deficiency in CoQ10 can be caused by a number of factors, but the most common is use of the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. Statin drugs work to lower cholesterol by inhibiting a liver enzyme called HMG Co-A reductase, thus reducing the liver’s ability to make LDL cholesterol. Butthat same pathway that blocks LDL cholesterol also blocks the production of CoQ10.

Aside from statin drug use, CoQ10 deficiencies have been attributed to several conditions: chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries), high blood pressure, male infertility, insulin resistance (diabetes), muscular deterioration (such as muscular dystrophy) or mitochondrial disease. Also, low CoQ10 levels have been found in patients with certain types of cancer: myeloma, lymphoma, and cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, pancreas, colon, kidney, and head and neck.[1]

 

http://www.naturalhealthadvisory.com/daily/cholesterol-control/coq10-benefits-you-can-enjoy-yourself/ 

 

There are fairly strong links between statin use and global amnesia, type 2 diabetes, and mitochondrial dysfunction.  The connection between statins and Alzheimer's disease is more murky because the drug can have dual effects--positive and negative.   


 


 


Serenoa
Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2014 6:37 AM
Joined: 4/24/2012
Posts: 483


Cholesterol is critical to healthy functioning of cells, and there is a possible connection to depletion of cholesterol in neuronal cell membranes causing problems. The ApoE4 protein which is associated with cholesterol transport is a key factor in Alzheimer's pathology. ApoE4 has been implicated in the formation of amyloid oligomers. Cholesterol is also important in the proper functioning of lipid rafts (Lane has posted information on these). I think understanding the functions and interactions of cholesterol would be very helpful to finding a cure. Here's some evidence on cholesterol involvement:

 

Cholesterol-regulated stress fiber formation

Abstract

Dynamic interactions between cellular membranes and the cytoskeleton are known to play major roles in many cellular responses to environmental cues. External signals resulting in proliferation, differentiation, polarization, and motility must be translated from chemical signals into changes of state, often involving the cytoskeleton-dependent altering of cell shape and redistribution of molecules. Cholesterol, a critical component of eukaryotic cell membranes, performs vital roles in regulating membrane dynamics and function. Here we demonstrate, using mesenchymal and epithelial cell lines, that depletion of membrane cholesterol results in Src kinase-mediated Rho activation and caveolin phosphorylation, which together collaborate to form stress fibers. These results demonstrate that cholesterol is a critical regulator of membrane-cytoskeletal dynamics and suggest that altered cholesterol concentrations may result in dramatic changes in cellular responses mediated by the cytoskeleton. J. Cell. Biochem. 106: 1031–1040, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

 


JohnG
Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2014 7:10 PM
Joined: 8/6/2014
Posts: 2


Thanks Lane and Serenoa, I really appreciate the feedback. I am reading the same things.


I brought up taking my Mom off the statin medication  but the doctor insisted that the risk of heart disease outweighed any side effects from the statin medication. I questioned that as I think we should not just give up on trying to protect against heart disease AND seeing if the side effects of the statins are impacting her memory. The only concession the doctor would make is to change the medication from a fat soluble one to a water soluble one. We'll see, but honestly I want her off that medication completely. 


The good news is that Mom's cholesterol levels are currently well within the acceptable range. We have made sure she his eating better and we take her on daily walks for her exercise. Overall her blood pressure is great, so much so that we are taking her off that medication completely. Her blood sugar levels are great, so we are reducing her diabetes medication. All things considered, great news.


Serenoa
Posted: Friday, September 5, 2014 5:10 AM
Joined: 4/24/2012
Posts: 483


Sounds like you are doing some really good things with your mom JohnG. I know it can be difficult trying to make changes in the lifestyle and diet of others. I try to do the same with my mother but now that she is in assisted living I can't implement those kinds of changes.

 

My mother also has mild osteoporosis and vitamin D deficiency and I have always wondered if there was a link to Alzheimer's. Well, cholesterol is required to make vitamin D (along with sunlight), and there is evidence that cholesterol controls bone remodeling in osteoclasts and osteoblast cells (I could dig up that article).

 

 Another connection is the increase in degenerative diseases of all types (i.e. diabetes, parkinson's, arthritis, IBS, etc.) seems to correlate with the rise in sugar consumption and low-fat, hi-carb diets in western society. Sugar is toxic and addictive and we consume much much much more now than humans ever have throughout history. Sugar drives cravings for more sugar! Processed carbs are the same as sugar. Then there is the demonization of fat. Natural fat, it appears is healthy (even saturated fat). And, eating fat may actually reduce bad cholesterol (LDL). Also, dietary fat does not translate into body fat, whereas sugar is converted directly to body fat.

 

 

  


Lane Simonian
Posted: Friday, September 5, 2014 10:10 AM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 4632


always laugh at the statin commercial that says when diet and exercise are not enough, because diet and exercise usually are enough.  There may be some cases where statins are needed, but it seems to be a drug that is over-prescribed.


I am glad that your mother is doing well physically overall.  You are taking good care of her.

 

I read something interesting about cholesterol recently--serum cholesterol does not enter the brain.  And low density lipids only become a problem in the brain once they have been oxidized.  So like amyloid itself, low density lipids in the absence of high levels of oxidative stess are not a problem.


Sugar, carbohydrates, high fructose corn syrup are all sources of oxidative stress.  So Serenoa is quite right, their over-consumption pose many potential health problems.


My favorite health writer is Jerome Burne and he has written a great deal of statins.  


http://jeromeburne.com/tag/statins/



Best of wishes to you and your mother.