A Penn State Medical School epidemiological study, reported by Science Daily, is urging physicians to not prescribe statin drugs for Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Evidently, due to earlier studies, cholesterol reducing drugs were considered preventative of Parkinson’s disease.
Amazingly, this practice had been going on for some time, thanks to several questionable, and conflicting studies of statin use and Parkinson’s disease. The most recent study was conducted at the Penn State College of Medicine earlier this year (2017.)
Their conclusion asserts that statin drugs should not be used as a Parkinson’s disease (PD) preventative. A previous study claimed patients who stopped taking statin drugs were more prone to Parkinson’s disease, thus statin drugs were helpful for preventing Parkinson’s.
The Penn State study provided evidence that the opposite is true. Statin drug use can lead to Parkinson’s disease.
Understanding Parkinson’s Disease (PD)
Parkinson’s disease was named after British apothecary James Parkinson, who published “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy” in 1817.
The shaking palsy was not a new phenomenom, but it had not been categorized yet as a disease. There is historical evidence that shaking palsy has been around since ancient times.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive central nervous system disease with a prognosis of worsening symptoms. It is marked by uncontrollable tremors that often start with one hand, rigid muscles, slow sometimes halting movement, and imprecise motor control.
PD affects those aged over 60 and middle aged more than other age groups. But it can strike younger men and women also. It is associated with a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine due to damaged and degenerated ganglia.
The ganglia is a lower part of the brain that connects to the upper spinal cord central nervous system. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter generally involved with memory, pleasurable reward feelings, cognition, attention, and behavior. Ganglia dopamine focuses more on physical movement.
Parsing the Parkinson’s Study Statin Use Quandary
The Penn State researchers worked and corresponded with other researchers in other states to arrive at a conclusion that contradicted an earlier 2013 Taiwan study, which was often referenced as a guideline for secondary uses of statin drugs to inhibit Parkinson’s disease.
That study concluded those who stopped taking fat-soluble statins were 58 percent more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who kept taking the drugs. But this 58 percent comparison was based on comparing users of fat soluble statin drugs to water soluble statin drugs, not those who stopped taking statin drugs all together.
Taiwan’s public health system requires doctors to stop prescribing statin drugs upon reaching specific target levels of reduced cholesterol levels.
Study author Jou-Wei Lin, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Taiwan University in Taipei claimed Taiwan’s statin prescription policy “Allowed us to see whether there was any difference in the risk of Parkinson’s in people who stopped taking statins compared to the ones who kept taking them.”
Their conclusion was based on the fact that fat soluble statin drugs are more able to penetrate the blood brain barrier. Because Parkinson’s disease occurrences were 58 percent higher among those who were no longer prescribed water soluble statins than those who were taking fat soluble statins.
Therefore, that research team concluded that statin drugs are helpful at lowering Parkinson’s disease risks. (Source)
h4>That seems a conclusion worth revisiting and re-examination.4h>
Some of the recent 2017 Penn State study researchers had been involved with an earlier (2015) study that easily demonstrated people with higher cholesterol readings were at lower risk for Parkinson’s than folks with low cholesterol readings. (Study Source)
This is no surprise to those of us who know the importance of cholesterol for building brain cells and the central nervous system’s protective myelin sheath, a fatty substance that also facilitates neuron communications.
Reducing cholesterol also reduces the materials needed for a fully functioning brain and protected nervous system.
The current 2017 Penn State study’s data analysis found that prior statin use was associated with a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease and was more noticeable during the start of the drug use. Penn State assistant professor of public health sciences, Guodong Liu, stated:
Statin use was associated with higher, not lower, Parkinson’s disease risk, and the association was more noticeable for lipophilic [fat soluble] statins, an observation inconsistent with the current hypothesis that these statins protect nerve cells. 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. (Source) Studies Based on False Premises Have False Outcomes
Unfortunately, many doctors are probably not aware of this latest research or the previous 2015 Penn State study that showed people with higher cholesterol were at lower risk for PD (discussed earlier).
As usual, the Penn State researchers were sure to advise taking statins as directed by their physicians as long as they were not taking them with the idea of preventing Parkinson’s disease (PD).
What is usually ignored by mainstream medical research is the importance of cholesterol for several health factors, especially neurological. In addition to rising PD symptoms, many statin users stop taking statins due to symptoms of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
The risk for neurological disease using statin drugs is not worth using drugs which have been proven to not prevent heart disease, but can increase the risk of heart failure. Yet, the bogus cholesterol theory of cholesterol from dietary saturated fat causing heart disease persists.
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