According to a recent epidemiological study, the regular use of statins may reduce the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease, but only if the patient takes the drug that best suits their sex and race.

This is the main conclusion taken from an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology (JAMA Neurology) last December.

The team at the University of Southern California that was behind the study analyzed the data from nearly 400 000 Medicare beneficiaries. All were regular statin users and were at least 65 years old.

Statistical analysis suggests that statins can globally reduce the risk of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This risk reduction is slightly higher for women compared to men, which has been estimated at 15 % and 12 %, respectively.

These values depend on the type of statin taken, and is even more significant when the race and the ethnic background is taken into consideration.
For instance, the size of the reduction was estimated at 29 % for Hispanic men.

Globally, two statin molecules, Simvastatin and Atorvastin, stand out as having a consistent risk-reduction effect on the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in every category. Both are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, which might explain their success. That said, other statin molecules also showed an impact on reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s onset.

Importantly, the authors insist that their study does not establish causality.

Clinical trials would need to address the question and test whether these drugs can, in fact, reduce the risk of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Past studies have yielded contradictory results about the potential effect of statins on the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have not been able to reach a consensus about the impact of statins on this issue.

For this reason, statins will continue to be prescribed in the coming years for their main purpose: reducing LDL-choloesterol in the blood.

But prescribing one therapeutic agent over another might help to reduce a patient’s odds for developing Alzheimer’s.