Cholesterol and cognitive decline

elderly_volunteers.jpg

As a group the elderly are keenly health conscious. Probably as a percentage of their population more elderly try to eat right and take care of themselves than any other group. And with good reason since the Grim Reaper is lurking right around the corner waiting to harvest them at the earliest opportunity. Senior citizens have seen their friends and relatives succumb to disease and realize more than most how precarious life really is.

But the elderly have a problem. Most of them get their health information from the mainstream press. And as regular readers of this blog know, the mainstream press is more often wrong than right. (See Gina Kolata’s review of Gary Taubes’ book in last Sunday’s New York Times and you’ll see what I mean.)

Based on what they read in the press, most people of retirement age or beyond are busy cutting the fat and cholesterol from their diets, obsessing on their cholesterol levels, avoiding saturated fat like death, and loading up on plenty of complex carbs. If these folks have a cholesterol reading that’s a little above ‘normal,’ their doctors usually start them on statin drugs. And these patients take them religiously.

Problem is as I reported earlier, the statin drugs have never been shown to be effective in preventing illness in people over 65. In fact, the opposite has been shown – elderly people taking statins are more likely to die from cancer. But their doctors don’t know that because they have been sold a bill of goods by the pharmaceutical industry working feverishly to tap the elderly as a source of revenue for statins.

The majority of the medical data out there shows that a higher cholesterol is correlated with better health and longevity among the retirement set, but few of them know it. And fewer yet know that a lower cholesterol level is associated with cognitive decline.

If there is one thing that elderly people fear more than heart disease and cancer it is probably Alzheimer’s disease or any kind of mental decline. Unfortunately, their fixation on their cholesterol levels are herding more and more of them in that very direction.

The brain represents about 2 percent of a person’s overall weight yet contains about 25 percent of the cholesterol in that person’s body. Just those figures alone ought to tell you that cholesterol is pretty important in cognitive function, but most people aren’t aware of those figures. And won’t learn them from the mainstream press (which get’s its info from the pharmaceutically-driven medical press), but will continue mistakenly to think of cholesterol only in terms of heart disease risk.

A group of researchers in the Netherlands did a study looking at cholesterol levels and cognitive decline and found that the elderly with the highest cholesterol levels were able to think better than their counterparts with low levels of cholesterol. Their paper has been accepted by the journal Neurobiology of Aging, and is awaiting publication.

The researchers divided a group of 1181 elderly people (ave age 75) into groups of high cholesterol, medium cholesterol and low cholesterol levels. They administered reliable tests designed to determine general cognitive function, memory and information processing speed. Across the board subjects with the highest cholesterol levels performed the best, followed by those with medium cholesterol levels. The group with the lowest cholesterol levels performed the worst.

The scientists followed these groups of people for about six years and found that all groups followed about the same trajectory of mental decline, but the group with the highest cholesterol levels ended up with better function than the other two groups simply because they started from a better position at the beginning.

The research team also studied members of the group of subjects who were carriers of a certain genetic marker that is associated with greater rates of Alzheimer’s disease. The folks in this group that had the lowest cholesterol levels had a more precipitous decline in mental function over the six years than did those who had the same genetic marker but were in the high cholesterol group.

This is not the only study that has shown the cholesterol is protective against cognitive decline – it’s only the most recent. And I doubt that you will read much about it in the mainstream press. I doubt that it will be picked up by every newspaper and TV news station as was the idiotic ‘study’ that was totally misreported on red meat and colon cancer that I posted about earlier.

It’s truly unfortunate that our parents and grandparents who are so desperately trying to maintain their health are so wrapped up in trying to rid themselves of the very molecule – cholesterol – that will do the most to keep them from falling prey to the cognitive decline they dread so much.

If you want to improve the health of your elderly relatives, the best thing you can do is hide their statins and buy them a steak dinner.

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33 thoughts on “Cholesterol and cognitive decline

  1. I’ll repost this comment here, since it’s more on-topic…

    Jane Brody today in the NY Times, showing once again she is dumber than a sack of hammers:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/h…lth&oref=slogin

    let’s see, she eats low fat, she worries about her cholesterol, but she refuses to do a CT scan (which would tell her clearly whether or not she even has a problem), instead, she takes statins.

    what a nincompoop.

  2. A quote from Jane Brody in today’s NYT:

    As for me, a rough calculation of my risk factors showed that I was not at “intermediate risk” for heart disease, and therefore not a good candidate for a CT scan. So I decided to go the statin route, encouraged by recent evidence that statins, or their effect on cholesterol, protect not only against heart disease but may also help prevent dementia. I’ll have another cholesterol test in a month or so.

    Read it and weep.

    I’m weeping.

    Good luck.

    MRE

  3. I had severe memory problems on statins, but the onset is very slow!! I’ve noticed in others, but I think because it’s a gradual decline people don’t even realize it!!

    With a lot of work I think I’m almost back to normal, but it’s taken several years!!

    Keep eating those good quality fats.

    Good luck.

    MRE

  4. Thanks again for a great article! I have been trying to get my father (who is a retired physician) off statins but he has complete faith in his doctors. My mother is concerned about his memory, etc. I had sent them 2 articles (Lancet and one other) on cognitive decline in elderly statin users but their doctor completely pooh-poohed that. My dad is also diabetic and eats carbs on the recommendation of his nutritionist. I have a lot of “Arrrgggg” moments about all this!!

    BTW, check out Jane Brody today – she thinks that statins will protect her from dementia. Unbelievable!

    Good luck with your Dad; I feel for you.

    As for Jane…I think it’s already to late.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  5. Thanks again DR. Eades: Too late for my folks, but you can be sure that I will be enjoying my prime rib for years to come. Felt bad for Gina Kolata. If I understand her correctly, she chafed at Taubes suggestion that the addiction to carbs is difficult to break. As I enjoyed my mini pumpkin pies (ala Low Carb Cookworx) and lemon ricotta pancakes this weekend, I realized that her impression of low carb is the Atkins stereotype. How sad. Gary Taubes didn’t tell me what my own body hasn’t already told me (and many other low carb disciples) for 4 years. I’m not hungry, have not gained 1 pound back of the 52 I lost from 222 to 171, and delight each day in the varied recipes I can enjoy. And with average triglyceride values of 39 and HDL values of 75 yearly, I know that I am not “killing” myself with the fat drooling from my mouth. Question: why does the anecdotal evidence of so many of us not seem to matter? How would my health and yours be explained? My cardiologist acknowledges what he sees in me, but still believes me to be an anomaly.

    Thanks again,

    David Futoma

    Hey David–

    Anecdotal evidence appears to be admissible only if it corroborates the low-fat paradigm. If not, then it’s written off as an aberration that needs much more study before it can be recommended to the great unwashed masses who now are almost all obese and diabetic.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  6. Oh dear, well that would certainly explain my mother. She’s ever so proud of her low cholesterol (natural, she’s not on statins) but her memory is just the pits. It’s astounding how faulty her recall of events past has gotten. Combine that with her hearing issues that she won’t do anything about and you are in for some pretty wild and wacky conversations sometimes.

    Well, just had another go-around with hubby’s doctors who want to put him on statins because of his cholesterol numbers. His total is 256 with HDL at 61 and LDL at 178. Triglycerides are 84. His doctors nearly had him talked into starting a statin but I’ve asked him to hold off while I researched his numbers. If I’m figuring it out correctly, his ratio is 4.2. Is this good? I know that you’ve discussed all this before, but I’m not having much luck pulling up the relevant posts where you covered this in the comment section when I do a search. I apologize for going over old ground again but the mainstream websites aren’t much help. Hubby doesn’t LC but does eat much less carb than he did in years past by virtue of what I cook at home. If his numbers do need some tweaking, I think that I can talk him into cutting out more grain & sugar carbs. The hardest part with all this is that hubby is not very pro-active when it comes to his heath, he will swallow any prescription that he’s handed, no questions asked.

    As usual, your latest posts have been terrific. Things have been rather hectic for a while so I’ve only had time to read them but not comment. Taube’s book is waiting for me at the library and I’ll be picking it up tonight. Can’t wait to read it!

    Hi Esther–

    A total cholesterol/HDL ratio of 4.2 is good if you believe in those things, which I really don’t. A triglyceride/HDL ratio of 1.4 is great. But the only factor that has ever been shown to be an actual risk for cardiovascular disease is LDL particle size, and the Gradient-Gel Electrophoresis test isn’t even a lab the doctor ordered.

    Let me know how you like the Taubes book.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  7. Thanks again Dr. Mike for this public service. Although many of us who have become familiar with your work (including here on this blog) have probably already come to pretty much understand this issue, you have now made a wonderfully comprehensive, tightly written, plain language, evidence-based statement about the problem that is so explicit that it just cannot be ignored — at least not by reasonable persons who don’t have a professional / financial ax to grind. Of course we’re still waiting for the dominoes to start falling, but I’m optimistic now that it’s going to happen sooner rather than later. And when they do a lot of credit for that will accrue to you, Gary Taubes, these researchers, and others.

    (Can I nominate you for surgeon general yet?) 🙂

    Wil

    PS – May I suggest that you submit this to the AARP for publication as an essay/article in their magazine? That might go a long way toward educating those who most need this information. (The question being, perhaps, whether or not AARP has an ax to grind on this topic.)

    Hi Wil–

    I don’t know all that much about AARP, so I don’t know what their stand is on the lipid issue. I suspect that it’s pretty mainstream, though.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  8. My cholesterol is low, it always has been. Many years ago, it was always flagged low on the printout, (they don’t seem to do that any more.) Eating lower carb has made it go down even more. Can you suggest anything to increase it? I already eat a lot of eggs and other fatty foods, I’m getting at least 25% of my calories from saturated fat. I also take several fish oil gelcaps every day.

    Sounds like it’s naturally low to me. I wouldn’t worry about it.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  9. Dr Mike,

    Someone should check Gina Kolata’s blood cholestorol – she is clearly in “cognitive decline”!!

    Love you blog!

    Philip Thackray

    Thanks Philip–

    Good idea, but it doesn’t always work. Remember, Jane Brody’s cholesterol is high.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  10. Interesting article. I think it is becoming common knowledge the CAD, PVD have a large inflammatory component. Alzheimers disease is caused by tangles of plaques and may also have an important inflammatory process. Do you know of any study that link higher insulin levels with proinflammatory process.

    Interesting question. Insulin acting acutely is actually an anti-inflammatory substance, but when elevated chronically it becomes an inflammatory substance.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  11. Yes, buy them a steak dinner and hide the statins. Couldn’t agree more.

    My Mom is 75 (the average age in that study), and is completely convinced that I am trying to kill her. I’ve sent her stacks of studies (all in large print) and she refuses to read them. I want to strangle her doctor, who is telling her that her 150 total cholesterol is fantastic and to keep up the good work laying off the fatty foods.

    The really sad part is that her Dr is just following the standard protocol.

    Yep, that’s the saddest part of all.

    Good luck.

    MRE

  12. It’s really sad. I’m a nursing student and so often I feel powerless when forced to observe… and implement… such disastrously bad therapy/education.

    I remember one of my first patients, she was a diabetic and had just eaten her ADA diet breakkie (same grain gruel chow as other pts except sans fat in milk/juice cup/sugar packet)… and she said to me shortly after “I just had the most intense cravings for sweets” (I think she specifically said a coconut cookie). REALLY HAD TO USE FORCE to restrain myself from explaining why she likely was craving sweets so shortly after eating.

    I’m motivated by the knowledge that when I get through school and become advanced practice, I might be able to make a difference to disseminate good info to patients sick on bad therapies / education.

    If you give good nutritional advice, not the nutritional claptrap that most dietitians promote, you’ll do a lot of people a lot of good. It’s never made sense to me to give diabetic patients – who have a disease of too much sugar in their blood – more sugar. It’s insane, yet it’s done all over the world every day.

    Good luck.

    MRE

  13. Okinawa Centenarians have low cholesterol, and one of the lowest risk for Alzheimer’s disease in the world, I believe elderly okinawa’s have 75% more chance of NOT getting dementia. Also do note that the Okinawa centenarian study for over 30 years showed that they have cholesterol levels averaging 150mg/dl, and elders who eat traditional okinawa diet 170mg/dl.

    I believe that low cholesterol by eating a healthy diet does not in any way resemble having the same risk factors by having a bad diet and having *declining cholesterol levels*. It is interesting that the best known way to extend maximum lifespan of all species have similar effects on cholesterol synthesis, it goes down. Mice, monkeys, and humans are reported to have very low total and/or LDL, and high good cholesterol. The Bioshpere two experiment subjects went as low as 120mg/dl, I myself T/chol at 109mg/dl… Yet I can think more clear than ever before in my life. And yes, CR PROTECTS against Dementia with low cholesterol being a benefit to the organism.

    Also see this new article http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2053594.stm

    Hi Matt–

    First, I don’t necessarily buy into the premise that Okinawans are the healthiest people in the world nor that they have extreme longevity. I would have to see the data before I could become persuaded. But even if we assume that they are, it still doesn’t mean that what they eat or don’t eat or how much means squat for anyone else because everyone else doesn’t live in Okinawa or have the Okinawan genes or live the Okinawan lifestyle. Everything up to and including coral calcium has been purported to be the cause of the purported Okinawan longevity.

    The study I posted on is simply data. It shows that the elderly people studied who had the highest cholesterol levels performed better on tests designed to show cognitive ability than those who had lower cholesterol levels. You can draw your own conclusions, but the data are the data.

    As for Biosphere 2 and low cholesterol levels…I can point to one participant – Dr. Roy Walford – for whom all that caloric restriction and cholesterol lowering didn’t appear to promote much longevity.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  14. Right on the heels of this post is this low-fat article:

    Study: Low-Fat Diet May Cut Cancer Risk
    http://apnews.excite.com/article/20071010/D8S624M80.html

    Most of the dieters cut their fat intake to 24 percent of calories, not quite as much as recommended (20%). And over time, the fat crept back: Eight years later, they were up to 29 percent – still lower than the average American diet, noted Rossouw, of NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

    Jenny

    Hi Jenny–

    This was the Women’s Health Initiative study that I posted on previously. (Here, here and here) It was a large poorly done study that basically showed a whole lot of nothing. Now various groups are pouring through the data and have found a small correlation with diet and ovarian cancer, which I think is pretty meaningless.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  15. I think it’s odd that the Times picked Kolata to review Taubes, since she is mentioned several times in the book, and mostly unflatteringly. It struck me as I read her review. I don’t have the big problems with it that everyone else does. She’s old school, mainstream (except on the fiber) and not particularly useful (except on the fiber).

    I agree that it’s odd. But on the other hand it’s not so odd since Kolata is one of the main health writers on staff. But if you read from cover to cover the NY Times Book Review as I do every week, you’ll notice that almost all of the reviews are written by non-Times staff writers. The editors at the Times typically pay for reviews from outside writers or experts in the field being discussed to do the reviews. I have a friend who is a fiction writer who has written a dozen or so reviews on fiction books that are in the same general genre of his own. I suspect that the coven of Brody, Kolata, Burros et al did not want a positive review of the book since they were all savaged in it, and the only way to insure a bad review was for one of them to do it. I’m sure they pressed the editor to allow it.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  16. Do you think that statins could cause cognitive decline in a younger person. A good friend was diagnosed with high cholesterol at age 31 and prescribed statins. He has changed dramatically in personality in the last four years and recently divorced his wife? Just wondered if there had been any studies in this area? Keep up the good work.

    Yes, I think they can. What’s sad is that these drugs have never shown a benefit for anyone other than males under the age of 65 who have already had a heart attack. For anyone else, they have not been shown to have value.

    The wording of your comment is interesting and sheds light on how the drug companies have manipulated everyone’s thinking. You wrote “a good friend was diagnosed with high cholesterol…” There is no such disease as high cholesterol. It is only a lab finding. Lab results are pieces of the puzzle or clues used to come up with a diagnosis, not diagnoses in themselves. No one dies of high cholesterol. Even if it is a risk factor for heart disease (which it has never been shown to be) it is only that: a risk factor. Not the disease itself. The drug companies have cleverly changed the thinking of physician and layman alike to believe, however, that elevated cholesterol is a disease, and as such has to be diagnosed and treated. What a scam!

    If you want to read about statins and memory loss, pick up a copy of Lipitor: Thief of Memory written by a physician and former astronaut.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  17. I worry about my parents (each 70) because they listen to their doctors (because that’s what you do, you listen to your doctor). Even my dad now eats cereal in the morning. The doctors who might have reflexively said “Statins? Phooey. What do you mean, ‘eggs are bad’?” are long, long gone.

    Sad to say, this is the typical situation.

    Good luck.

    MRE

  18. From the negative reviews of Taubes book it seems to me that pure, unadulterated terror is preventing the critics from either opening the book for what they may find there or reading the book and shifting into denial. Even our friend Gina. I cannot see how anyone with an open mind can read the book and not be impressed with the evidence.

    Personally, it was self-evident, as if Gary had tailor-written about me in particular as I am one of the people who has discovered that carbohydrates in ANY shape or form are a toxic poison that my body cannot process. But that’s anecdotal.

    If is indeed unfortunate, not only for our seniors, but for everyone on this planet that the low-fat, carbs-are-good-for-you myth is not going to die anytime soon due to the paranoia and fear of its proponents. Reason can’t get through the fear.

  19. there WAS a postiive review of Taube’s book in the NY Times, in the science section. I’d imagine its author, John Tierny, doesn’t want to bump into Jane and Gina in the Times’ cafeteria, hahaa.

    it’s a good article, he brings up stuff about information cascades-how a incorrect conclusion, such as low fat is good for you, can take on a life of it’s own.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/science/09tier.html

    Hi mrfreddy–

    I was in the process of posting about this article when your comment came it.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  20. I would be interested in the actual numbers for each group, do you have those? I don’t know what they classify as high med and low.

    Hi Tess–

    I’m traveling right now and will be for a couple of weeks. I didn’t bring the paper with me, but if you’ll resubmit this comment after Oct. 24, I’ll look it up and give you an answer.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  21. One place where Gina Kolada, and many, if not most, writers and critics miss the boat, is by saying that people who have lost weight on a low carb diet, gain it back when they go off the diet. Well, DUH! Wow, what a surprise!

    Wouldn’t ya think that, since the premise is that high carb in = obesity out…. gee, I wonder why I got FAT again??? when I returned to my old way of eating.

    Seems to me that folks have got to realize they’re not looking at a short term diet, but a life long way of healthy eating. Everyone wants a quick fix; instant gratification; a pill to cure all while we still scarf down our chocolate cake, french fries, and Coca-cola.

    Why do I never hear of what happens when you go “off” Jennie Craig, or Weight Watchers?

    Are most people who are “dieting” in one form or another only looking for a quick cosmetic fix, as espoused by the still overweight Kirstie Alley? Yeah, she’s a looker who no doubt can afford the best followups in cosmetic surgery, but how’s her heart? And don’t tell me she hasn’t had liposuction.

    People are so gullable.

    By the way, I LIKE Kirstie Alley- I’m only annoyed at the use they make of her. Why not show some geriatric subject in a nursing home claiming great health benefits for the Jennie Craig way of eating? It’s all so damned annoying!

    Hi Dorothy–

    Like you I get torgued at these bozos who say something along these lines: Yeah, the diet didn’t really work for me. I lost a lot of weight, but I just regained it as soon as I went off the diet.

    People actually tell me that all the time. It’s mind boggling. I often wonder if these people had a terrible medical problem that required medication to control. Would they be surprised if their condition returned if they quit taking their medicine? The depth of the dumbth of a lot of people – including our friend Gine – is pretty astounding.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  22. On another (more specific) note…
    Dr Eades I was wondering what your opinion is in regards to conditions such as familial hyperlipidemia (where there is a genetic trait which prevents the body from regulating the level of LDL produced)? Isn’t it true that excess LDL floating around in the blood is prone to oxidation, where it can contribute to vessel damage (or is my understanding incorrect)?
    I totally agree cholesterol concern is likely overblown but isn’t it true at least some people might benefit from saturated fat restriction for this reason (they lack the ability to effectively regulate LDL production because of the trait)?

    I have a high total cholesterol, but the ratio is fantastic and my triglycerides are non-existant. The funny thing is before reducing weight (46 bmi – 20 bmi) through low carb, my triglycerides were high, hdl was low… but the LDL/total cholesterol was low. My LDL cholesterol has remained relatively constant, but the HDL has almost trippled whereas the triglcyerides are one fifth the old value. In my case a high total cholesterol means health, and lower cholesterol is a sign associated with the metabolic disease process (insufficient HDL secondary to the high insulin levels).

    There is virtually no evidence that saturated fat causes cardiovascular disease. Gary Taubes’ book goes in excruciating detail into why that belief is so widespread today despite there being no real data to back it up.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  23. It is a shame that people even need to take statins because lower cholesterol can be achieved with a healthy diet. Some of the comments here stated that cholesterol lowering does no good and that high cholesterol results in longevity… however this is not the case. There is absolutely NO EVIDENCE whatsoever that increasing someones cholesterol while it’s declining with age or not, will extend longevity. This is complete nonsense. For those that need statins please do what your doctor says and take them.

    Are you quite certain there is “absolutely NO EVIDENCE whatsoever” that increasing cholesterol doesn’t bring about benefit? I wouldn’t be quite so dogmatic if I were you. And unless you are a physician taking care of specific patients I wouldn’t be advising people on statins one way or the other.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  24. I was under the impression that Low Carb eating reduced some kinds of cholesterol.

    Is it reducing the ones that could help cognitively?

    Hi Dan–

    Eating low-carb typically reduces elevated cholesterol, but doesn’t lower it too much. Nor does it lower an already low cholesterol level.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  25. Thank You Dr. Eades for putting me onto the Malcolm Kendrick book. Arrived yesterday from Amazon and I’m half done already. What a stitch!

    “When the liver makes fats, it makes saturated fats, and saturated fats alone. My God, do our own livers not know how unhealthy this is?” “Anything above 4 mmol/l and you will be statinated. Resistance is useless.”

    He is such a good read, but in the process I am learning boatloads about the whole subject. One question: As a practicing prep school chemistry teacher, I accept what he is writing, but there are precious few references (which compared to the Taubes’ book is a good thing). From what you’ve read, is his science essentially correct (allowing for the simplifications required to make it readable?) I fully expect that he will be savaged in the reviews by other “so-called” experts.

    I ordered 3 more copies to pass out as birthday presents, and my wife and teenage children want to read it as well (as they should)!

    Thanks again,

    Dave Futoma

    Hi David–

    The lack of references is one of the negatives I pointed out about this book when I first reviewed it. But, like with the title, the publishers often make the call on whether references make it into the book or not. In both PP and the PPLP the publishers made us leave the bibliography and references out because the material ran too long.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  26. What are your thoughts on the paper that was quoted in the nytimes review of taube’s book, about a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. I know it’s not, but they seem to mention a study that shows that it is. I haven’t read that study(would like to), but it’s gotta be wrong somehow right?

    I plan to post on it in the very near future. Even if it were right, which it isn’t, it would only be one study among many showing the opposite.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  27. Suggest you also make sure to read the comments generated by the UK Times article. Looks to me like the majority of commenters talk about adverse experiences with statins and actually debunk the article. Dominoes finally starting to fall….or at least go teeter / totter?

    W

    Hi Wil–

    I love it when that happens.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  28. the study (WOSCOPS) wasn’t exactly a raging success originally, according to the figures in Uffe Ravnskov’s book

    That is correct.

  29. None of my posts are getting through, but I thought you might be interested in this article. Fasting and calorie restriction up regulates SIRT1. SIRT1 is being found to be a factor in lifespan and disease such as insulin resistance, cancer, and heart disease. You think low cholesterol apparently means higher risk of death, whereas it’s actually falling cholesterol due to a disease.

    This new study links the longevity gene SIRT1 to lower cholesterol. As I said, since going on CR my total cholesterol is now 109mg/dl and Tryglycerides between 35 – 53 mg/dl 😉

    Long-Life Gene Might Help Lower Cholesterol
    http://www.forbes.com/forbeslife/health/feeds/hscout/2007/10/11/hscout609058.html

    I enjoy your posts, but on this I think you’re dead wrong. However I agree statins are not the solution. A healthy diet is the solution.

    Hi Matthew–

    Your posts are getting through. I’ve just been traveling and answering a few comments here and there as I can get to them.

    I said it before, but I’ll say it again. I posted about data from a study. Data is data. And in this case the data show that elderly people with higher cholesterol levels perform better on tests measuring cognitive function. In the discussion section of the paper the authors considered the possibility that the lowered cholesterol in some subjects could have been the result of poor nutrition and frailty, but they said that that was a possibility, not the actual cause.

    You can argue with this data all you want, but it is still the data. You and anyone else who cares to can draw your own conclusions about what these data mean. Since the brain contains 25% of the cholesterol in the body (more than any other structure) that indicates to me that cholesterol is important for the brain to work properly. In view of that it makes sense to me that a lowered cholesterol would hamper cognitive function, which is exactly what this study showed.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  30. Hi Dr Mike,

    Thanks for the comments on hubby’s numbers and I really do appreciate that you took the time to do so. For the record, I don’t put any stock in cholesterol numbers myself, but sometimes I have to fight fire with fire. Hubby’s numbers actually used to be higher and several years ago his PCP did put him on a statin. His then GI was very upset about that when he found out and immediately took him off of them. If I remember correctly, the GI wasn’t all that sold on the cholesterol/heart disease link, himself. Unfortunately, hubby’s current GI and PCP are both sold on it and it’s a constant battle every time they run his numbers. They are both part of the CU School of Medicine and are, of course, passing it right along to all those med students.

    Good luck in dealing with a tricky situation.

    Cheers–

    MRE