Taking statins may lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, particularly among people younger than 60, a new study suggests.
Overall, people who took cholesterol-lowering statins had a 26 percent decreased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease over a 12-year period. For those under 60, the risk was reduced by 69 percent.
The results held even after the researchers took into account other factors that may heighten the risk of Parkinson’s disease, such as smoking.
However, the results should be interpreted with caution, the researchers said. For starters, the calculations they made to determine whether their findings could be due to chance, instead of a real risk-reducing effect, showed that the results met this criteria, but just barely.
In addition, about 30 percent of people categorized as taking statins were likely taking another type of cholesterol-lowering drug.
Because of this, and other potentially adverse effects of statins, more studies are needed to clarify the effect of these drugs on Parkinson’s disease, including whether only certain types of statins have a beneficial effect.
Previous studies on whether statins reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease have had mixed results, although a 2005 study found that the drugs do not worsen the disease.
In the new study, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston followed 38,000 men and 91,000 women from 1994 to 2006. Participants were periodically asked whether they were taking statins.