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Statins May Speed Symptoms of Onset Parkinson's Disease in Some People

Alison Rodriguez
Statins may cause symptoms of onset Parkinsonís disease to advance more quickly in those who are susceptible to the disease, according to a new study published in Movement Disorders.
Statins may cause symptoms of onset Parkinson’s disease to advance more quickly in those who are susceptible to the disease, according to a new study published in Movement Disorders.

Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine investigated previous inconsistent research that suggested the use of statins could protect against Parkinson’s disease while treating high cholesterol. The inconsistent results could be because of the 2 types of statins—water-soluble statins that cannot enter the brain, and fat-soluble statins that can.

“One of the reasons that may have explained these prior inconsistent results is that higher cholesterol, the main indication to use statins, has been related to lower occurrence of Parkinson’s disease,” Xuemei Huang, professor of neurology, said in a statement. “This made it hard to know if the statin protective effect was due to the drug or preexisting cholesterol status.”

The researchers used a database of insurance claims to analyze the data for those with Parkinson’s disease. They identified 22,000 patients with Parkinson’s disease and of them, 2322 patients were recently diagnosed with the disease. From here, the researchers paired every patient with Parkinson’s to a control group member. Data was reported according to which patients had taken a statin and the amount of time before a symptom of Parkinson’s was noticed.

The results led the researchers to conclude that statin use and higher risk of Parkinson’s disease are related, and the symptoms are more apparent following the use of the statin.

“Statin use was associated with higher, not lower, Parkinson’s disease risk, and the association was more noticeable for lipophilic statins, an observation inconsistent with the current hypothesis that these statins protect nerve cells,” stated Huang. “In addition, this association was most robust for use of statins less than 2-and-a-half years, suggesting that statins may facilitate the onset of Parkinson’s disease.”

The research mentions a previous study that found that patients who stopped using statins have a greater chance of having Parkinson’s disease. This would lead to the conclusion that statins protect against Parkinson’s. However, the Penn State College of Medicine accounts for this by claiming that patients stop using stations because of their Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

“We are not saying that statins cause Parkinson’s disease, but rather that our study suggests that statins should not be used based on the idea that they will protect against Parkinson’s,” concludes Huang.

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