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Parkinson's 'more likely in people with low LDL cholesterol'

29th December 2006

People with low levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), commonly referred to as "bad cholesterol", are more likely than those with higher LDL levels to have Parkinson's disease, researchers have claimed.

Low LDL levels are considered to be linked to good cardiovascular health

Scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tested 124 Parkinson's patients and 112 people without the disease.

They carried out fasting cholesterol profiles and also accounted for the participants' gender, age, smoking habits and use of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

"People with Parkinson's disease have a lower occurrence of heart attack and stroke than people who do not have the disease," said Dr Xuemei Huang, the medical director of the movement disorder clinic at UNC hospitals and assistant neurology professor at UNC's medicine school.

"Parkinson's patients are also more likely to carry the gene APOE-2, which is linked with lower LDL cholesterol."

Previous studies have suggested that smokers, who are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases, are less likely to have Parkinson's.

Parkinson's is a degenerative disorder affecting the central nervous system, often leading to difficulty with movements such as walking, talking, and writing.

One in 500 people, or around 120,000 individuals have the disease, and about 10,000 new cases are diagnosed in the UK every year according to figures from the Parkinson's Disease Society.