US researchers are planning a prospective study of 16,000 people to examine the proposed link after finding that lower LDL-cholesterol concentrations were associated with a higher incidence of Parkinson's.
For the study, the lipid profiles of 124 Parkinson's patients and 112 controls were compared.
It showed the risk of Parkinson's was more than three times higher in people with an LDL-cholesterol level below 114mg/dL than in people with an LDL-cholesterol higher than 138mg/dL.
Lead researcher Dr Wue Mei Huang, from the University of North Carolina, said that if low LDL-cholesterol causes Parkinson's, statins might also.
If the link is real, given the widespread use of statins, a surge in diagnoses could be seen in the next five years, she suggested. But experts say it is too early to draw conclusions.
Dr Kathleen Grosset, a Glasgow GPSI in movement disorders, said: ‘It is a small study and larger studies would be required to change any policy.'
Wigan GP Dr Mike Knapton, director of prevention and care at the British Heart Foundation, said that GPs should continue to use statins as indicated. ‘I think it remains unclear what the impact of statins is on Parkinson's disease,' he said. ‘What you need to say is that low LDL is linked to Parkinson's disease.'
Professor Mike Kirby, Hertfordshire GP and member of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society, was uncertain of the science underlying the proposed link.
‘I don't understand why it might happen as a side effect,' he said. ‘To make a link you need to have the biological cause.'
- Movement disorders 2006 Online
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