"Good" Cholesterol Helps Women Fend Off Dementia
New research has indicated that women who maintain elevated levels of high-densitylipoprotein (HDL; "good") cholesterol may ward off Alzheimer's disease. For the study, theresearchers used data from the Women's Health Study?an ongoing study of cardiovascularrisk factors. From 1992 to 1995, the researchers collected baseline health and lifestyle datafrom 39,000 women ranging from 60 to 75 years old, including blood samples from 75% ofthe cohort.
The researchers based their findings on cognitive assessments conducted on 4081 participants65 years or older during 1998-2000. The results showed that the odds of cognitiveimpairment declined with increasing levels of HDL. In fact, women with the highest levelshave half the risk of becoming mentally impaired, compared with those with the lowest HDLlevels, stated researchers in their report presented recently at the International Conferenceon Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders. Lead investigator Elizabeth Devore, a graduatestudent at the Channing Laboratory at Harvard Medical School, said the results are"good news because we know how to modify HDL." She noted, for example, that exercise,weight loss, and moderate alcohol intake have all proven to increase HDL levels.