The Poisonous Statins now pushed for Alzheimers
STATINS HALT ALZHEIMER’S
Statins could be the key to beating Alzheimer’s
Wednesday April 4,2012
By Jo Willey
STATINS used by millions of people in Britain to prevent heart illness could be the key to beating Alzheimer’s, say researchers.
A daily dose of the pill costing as little as 40p may ward off the cruel brain disease.
Scientists found that Simvastatin – the statin most frequently prescribed in the UK and commonly given to elderly patients – improved blood flow in the brain while boosting learning and memory.
The breakthrough could have vital consequences for the long-term health of the nation. At least 850,000 people here have dementia, with more than half suffering from Alzheimer’s. The figure is expected to soar by 1.7million within the next 40 years as the population ages.
The new study brings hope of halting the illness through early intervention. More than six million people in this country take statins, usually in a 40mg dose, to reduce artery-clogging cholesterol which in turn can cause heart attacks, heart disease and stroke.
Our study shows that Simvastatin can protect against some of the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease
The wonder drug is credited with saving tens of thousands of lives in recent years. Now research is proving the link between heart health and protecting the brain from the ravages of memory loss and associated miseries.
Study leader Dr Edith Hamel, from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, said: “Our study shows that Simvastatin can protect against some of the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease on nerve cells involved in memory, if administered early in the disease process.”
Alzheimer’s destroys nerve cells and effects the function of blood vessels in the brain.
However, recent studies appear to show that people who take statins before they are elderly are at a reduced risk of the killer illness. The Canadian team led by Dr Hamel had previously found that Simvastatin improved blood flow in the brains of year-old laboratory mice with Alzheimer’s.
Now their new study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, has found it also boosted learning and memory in six-month-old mice whose disease had not progressed as far.
This means the drug may be effective against Alzheimer’s if given at an early stage of diagnosis. The younger mice had higher levels of two memory-related proteins in the hippocampus, the brain’s key memory centre. In both cases the animals received higher doses of Simvastatin.
Low 10mg doses of the generic drug can be bought over-the-counter without a prescription at pharmacies in the UK. Dr Simon Ridley, of the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Overall evidence suggests that statins like Simvastatin do not benefit people with dementia, but this suggests the timing of treatment could be vital. Many experts believe that treatments for dementia will be most beneficial if given very early in the disease process.
“While these new findings are valuable, the benefits are shown in mice and we don’t know how they will bear out in humans. There is a real need to push on with research that will boost early detection and help sufferers get more benefit from treatments.”
Study leader Dr Hamel agrees more research is needed to prove if humans could benefit.