JUN 19, 2017 2:57 PM PDT

Statin Drugs Linked to Increased Risk of Parkinson's

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Research has indicated that statins, used by millions of people to lower cholesterol, do not protect against Parkinson's disease as once thought. Statins are commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol levels, and it had been suggested at one time that they offered some protection against Parkinson’s, a degenerative neurological disorder. However, new work by scientists at Penn State College of Medicine has found that routine use of statins could also be accelerating the onset of symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The work was published in the journal Movement Disorders, and is summarized in the video.

Statins are usually given to people that have high cholesterol and a variety of studies had come to different conclusions when it came to Parkinson’s, the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the U.S. Some research had indicated statin use was coupled with a lower risk of the disease, some research said there was no relationship between the two, while studies done in recent years have begun to show the drug caused an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.

"One of the reasons that may have explained these prior inconsistent results is that higher cholesterol, the main indication to use statins, has been related to lower occurrence of Parkinson's disease," suggested senior author Xuemei Huang, a Professor of Neurology at Penn State College of Medicine. "This made it hard to know if the statin protective effect was due to the drug or preexisting cholesterol status."

For this work a database of patient claims to insurance companies was analyzed; it compiled data from over 50 million individuals, 22,000 of whom had Parkinson's disease. The researchers went on to select 2,322 patients from that list - those that had been recently diagnosed with Parkinson's. Next, patients that had been taking a statin were identified, and it was determined how long they had been exposed to the drug before the symptoms of Parkinson's disease started.

"Statin use was associated with higher, not lower, Parkinson's disease risk, and the association was more noticeable for lipophilic statins, an observation inconsistent with the current hypothesis that these statins protect nerve cells," Huang explained. "In addition, this association was most robust for use of statins less than two-and-a-half years, suggesting that statins may facilitate the onset of Parkinson's disease."

While this research aligns with other data, it also contradicts some other research. One recently published study suggested that those who halted their statin use were more likely to receive a Parkinson's disease diagnosis.

"Our new data suggests a different explanation," Huang said. "Use of statins may lead to new Parkinson's disease-related symptoms, thus causing patients to stop using statins. We are not saying that statins cause Parkinson's disease, but rather that our study suggests that statins should not be used based on the idea that they will protect against Parkinson's,"

 

Sources: UPI via PSU, AJMC, Movement Disorders

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
APR 27, 2021
Neuroscience
Leaky Blood-Brain Barrier Linked to Schizophrenia
APR 27, 2021
Leaky Blood-Brain Barrier Linked to Schizophrenia
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found that people with schizophrenia may have a more permeable bloo ...
MAY 06, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Improved Genetic Technologies Find Elusive Genetic Mutations
MAY 06, 2021
Improved Genetic Technologies Find Elusive Genetic Mutations
Some genetic diseases are caused by inborn errors - genetic mutations that we're born with and that end up in every cell ...
MAY 09, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Understanding Why High Salt Diets Can Damage the Kidneys
MAY 09, 2021
Understanding Why High Salt Diets Can Damage the Kidneys
Chronic kidney disease is estimated to affect about 700 million people around the world. High salt diets are known to ma ...
MAY 14, 2021
Coronavirus
How COVID-19 Patients Lose Their Sense of Smell
MAY 14, 2021
How COVID-19 Patients Lose Their Sense of Smell
The loss of the sense of smell is a well-known symptom of COVID-19, and was common even in people that did not have many ...
JUN 17, 2021
Immunology
How T Cells Sense Dangerous Invaders
JUN 17, 2021
How T Cells Sense Dangerous Invaders
T cells form a major part of our immune defenses, protecting us against the constant barrage of potentially pathogenic p ...
JUN 13, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
In a Major Twist, Human Cells Found Writing RNA Into DNA
JUN 13, 2021
In a Major Twist, Human Cells Found Writing RNA Into DNA
For many years, scientists have known about one of the most fundamental processes in biology, where cells use a DNA sequ ...
Loading Comments...