A new study contradicted earlier reports that cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. In the current study, reported in Neurology (November 9, 2004), the researchers claimed that the inconsistency might have to do with how the data were analyzed. The study included 2356 elderly participants without baseline dementia who were in a health maintenance organization.
The follow-up phase found an all-cause dementia diagnosis in 312 participants and a probable Alzheimer's disease diagnosis in 168 participants. The researchers noted that cholesterol-lowering drugs did not have a major effect on the possibility of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. The results of the study, however, showed that statin use was associated with a lower risk of "probable" Alzheimer's disease in patients younger than 80 who also had at least 1 copy of APOE E4, a gene mutation associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. Yet, this relationship was not strong.