Cholesterol-lowering drugs may accelerate onset of Parkinson’s disease, according to researchers

Statins are a type of cholesterol-lowering drug typically prescribed to patients at risk of cardiovascular disease. Although they may provide relief from heart conditions, the same can’t be said of their effects on the brain. A recent study by researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine has presented a troubling fact about these drugs: the use of statins may increase a person’s susceptibility to Parkinson’s disease.

For their study, the researchers extricated and studied data from a database of insurance claims. Out of the 50 million people registered in the database, they were able to identify 22,000 people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. They then narrowed it down to just 2,322 people who had been recently diagnosed with the condition. Those Parkinson’s disease patients were then each paired up with another person from the database who didn’t have Parkinson’s disease. Finally, the researchers determined who had been taking a statin, and the length of time before the symptoms of the disease manifested. The results, which have been published in Movement Disorders, showed a definite connection between Parkinson’s disease and statin use.

In their study, the researchers noted that the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease was greater during the start of statin treatment, a period of 2.5 years, to be exact. Moreover, the association to the disease was stronger in lipophilic statins, or statins that diffuse in fat. (Related: Statin scam exposed: Cholesterol drugs cause rapid aging, brain damage and diabetes)

The reason for this may lie in statin’s ability to penetrate various tissues. Compared to hydrophilic, or water-soluble, statins, lipophilic statins can enter cells with greater ease, meaning they can reach the brain while hydrophilic statins can’t. Thus, it’s probable that the presence of lipophalic statins can negatively affect the brain’s cells and lead to deterioration.

In spite of their findings, the researchers acknowledged that further investigation was required. The study did not include patients who were under Medicare, nor did it take into account patients who were over 65 years old.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder that affects movement. It occurs when a person’s brain cells or neurons break down and are no longer able to produce proper amounts of dopamine, the chemical responsible for movement. The less dopamine a person has in their body, the less they are able to control their movements. Tremors, problems with walking, and slow movement are just some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and they only worsen over time.

There is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease at the moment, nor is there a definite cause.

The most that can be done for a patient is to provide them with a variety of treatments based on his or her symptoms. These can range from prescribing medication to reduce the severity of the symptoms to surgery for those who’ve exhausted all medical treatment to physical and occupational therapy.

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