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Too much ‘good’ cholesterol raises dementia risk

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You can have too much of a good thing—assuming you believe there is such a thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol.

People who have too much HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol—the ‘good’ sort—are much more likely to develop dementia in older age.  People who are 75 and older with high levels run a 42 percent increased risk of developing dementia compared to those with lower levels.  For younger people, the risk was around 27 percent higher.

Very high levels are defined as 80 mg/dL or above, while the optimum level is between 40 and 60 mg/dL for men, and between 50 and 60 mg/dL for women.

Researchers from Monash University discovered the link between high cholesterol levels and dementia when they assessed the cognitive abilities of 18,668 people, 2709 of whom had very high levels of HDL; of these, 38 among the under-75s and 101 in the over-75s developed dementia.

But it’s not just about levels of HDL; the more important cholesterol for brain health is LDL (low-density lipoprotein), the ‘bad’ cholesterol that is targeted by statins.  The drugs lower LDL while raising HDL levels—the perfect recipe for cognitive decline.

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References
Lancet Regional Health, Western Pacific, 2023; 100963; doi: 10.1016/j.lanwpc.2023.100963
Article Topics: cholesterol, Dementia
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