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by Robert MacKay, Tuesday, August 13, 2013 | Categories: Statins

Research regarding Parkinson’s Disease has long been controversial due to many unconventional methods being utilised in the hope of finding a cure and understanding its development. However, we were recently made aware of a study that looked at the use of statins and the development of Parkinson’s Disease that truly intrigued us.

The study, which was published in Neurology, included a total of 43 810 individuals in Taiwan who did not have Parkinson’s Disease (PD) but were treated with statins. As the national health insurance in Taiwan requires that patients do not get statins once the patients’ cholesterol levels are in line with the treatment goal, the researchers were able to consider potential effects of discontinuing statins, such as the risk of PD. The key findings indicated that patients who continued to take fat-soluble statins had a decreased risk of developing PD in contrast to patients who had ceased taking statins, or were taking water-soluble statins. Individuals in the group who ceased administering fat-soluble statins appeared to have a 58% greater likelihood of developing PD than those who stayed on the fat-soluble statins. This effect remained after the researchers had taken several other co-morbidities into account.

For those interested in the development of PD, the study certainly makes for interesting reading when read in conjunction with the academic discussions it has prompted with regards to the potential underlying mechanisms that could have played a role in the findings.

The value from the study comes in several forms. From the fact that they used a substantial national sample to the distinguishing of fat-soluble and water-soluble statins, it is easy to see why so many discussions have followed.

As with any research, there are areas that could have been done better. For instance, there is missing information with regards to the level of cholesterol the participants had, as well as a lack of differentiation of caffeine and nicotine intake. Consequently, it cannot be disentangled whether the fat-soluble statins had a neuro-protective effect or whether there was an indirect effect from changes in cholesterol.

This study is very interesting and confirms results in an earlier study on mice. Here is the earlier study that was published a few years ago.

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