People who take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may lower their risk of developing Parkinson disease, researchers have found.
Boston researchers, reporting in the Archives of Neurology, said the benefits may be greatest for those who start taking the medications at an earlier age.
For the study, doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health tracked the health of 38,192 men and 90,874 women participating in the Health Professional Follow-up study and the Nurses' Health study – two long-running health research projects.
Between 1994 and 2006, researchers documented 644 cases of Parkinson’s (338 in women and 306 in men). By examining the health histories of these individuals, and others in the study, researchers concluded those on statins had a lower risk of developing the disease.
"In summary, we observed an association between regular use of statins and lower risk of developing [Parkinson’s], particularly among younger patients," the researchers wrote. "However, our results should be interpreted with caution because only approximately 70 percent of users of cholesterol-lowering drugs at baseline were actual statin users. Further, the results were only marginally significant and could be due to chance."
Statins are among the most commonly prescribed classes of drugs in the United States to reduce the risk of heart disease. But research has also shown statins may have unfavorable effects – including increased risks for memory loss and diabetes.