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Cholesterol drug 'linked to Parkinson's'

15th January 2007

Scientists have found a potential link between cholesterol-reducing drugs and the development of Parkinson's disease.

Millions of British adults at risk of heart attacks and strokes take statins to lower cholesterol levels and are being urged to continue taking what experts say are potentially life-saving drugs.

In the study, published in Movement Disorders, US researchers warned that people with low levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol were more than three and a half times likely to develop the degenerative brain condition.

The small study of 236 people is to be followed through with a thorough investigation of 16,000 people to establish the nature of the link.

"I'm definitely concerned which is why I'm conducting a prospective study of 16,000 people," said Xuemei Huang, who led the research team at the University of North Carolina.

However, Dr David Dexter, a senior neuropharmacology lecturer at Imperial College, London, told the BBC: "With the evidence we have at the moment, I would say there is not much cause for concern that statin use may cause Parkinson's disease."

He added that statins could protect the brain against vascular changes leading to dementia and Alzheimer's.

Around 120,000 individuals suffer from Parkinson's, according to figures from the Parkinson's Disease Society.