A recent study showed that you can get Parkinson’s disease from some statins.
This news story is a result of this research paper. Researchers looked at 50 million insurance claim cases, and they identified 22,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease . Of these 2332 had a new diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, and these patients were on statins. The next step was to compare them to a control group of patients who were not on statins.
Study showing that you can get Parkinson’s disease from some statins
Statins have different properties. They can be lipophilic and hydrophilic, which means that they can be fat- or water soluble. The lipophilic statins showed an association with a 1.58-fold risk to causing Parkinson’s disease. The hydrophilic statins had a risk of 1.19-fold to cause Parkinson’s disease. A combination of statins plus non-statins showed a 1.95-fold risk to cause Parkinson’s disease.
Another point was the observation of lipophilic statins and their usage over time.
- Less than 1-year usage of a lipophilic statin: showed an association with a 1.82-fold risk of causing Parkinson’s disease.
- Between 1 and 2.5 years of usage: the risk was 1.75-fold to cause Parkinson’s disease.
- Usage of lipophilic statins for more than 2.5 years: the risk ratio was only 1.37-fold to cause Parkinson’s disease.
Lipophilic statins versus hydrophilic statins
Most statins are fat-soluble (lipophilic): atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, cerivastatin, pitavastatin, and simvastatin. Hydrophilic statins diffuse in water, they are called water-soluble statins. Pravastatin, rosuvastatin, and fluvastatin are examples of hydrophilic statins.
Cardiovascular risk versus Parkinson’s disease risk
Xuemei Huang, Ph.D., a professor of neurology at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA was the main author of a study. There was no proof that low cholesterol levels would prevent Parkinson’s disease . Instead, it appears that people have been taking statin prescriptions and noted that they started to get symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and they stopped taking the medicine. After discontinuing the medication they felt better and the symptoms disappeared. This is compatible with the study of the above named researcher, showing that the use of statins, particularly in the first 2.5 years, had a higher rate of Parkinson’s disease among the patients. In other words: you can get Parkinson’s disease from some statins!
Make distinction between cardiovascular risk and neurological risk
One has to be careful when assessing disease risks. Cardiovascular risks include high LDL cholesterol levels, and prescribing a hydrophilic statin may make sense for that condition. But Parkinson’s disease (a neurological disease) is found less commonly when cholesterol levels are high. Using statins will not make Parkinson’s disease any better. The bottom line that makes sense is to avoid statins for Parkinson’s disease. Use anti-Parkinson’s disease medications instead.
Medicine can develop in the wrong direction when you get Parkinson’s disease from some statins. But some physicians used statins in an attempt to treat Parkinson’s disease, which made the condition even worse. Statins may be necessary in a case where dieting and exercise did not correct high LDL cholesterol levels in a patient who is at a high risk to develop a heart attack. But in view of this study the physician should now consider using a hydrophilic statin for these patients. When it comes to Parkinson’s disease, statins have no place as a treatment modality. The studies in the past were divided between some showing a positive effect, others showing a negative effect. Now the results of this study have shown even more negative effects! This means statins should not be used to treat Parkinson’s disease. The only sensible solution would be to use anti-Parkinson’s disease drugs.