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Comparative study between statin types reveals no significant effect on the risk of Alzheimer disease

A comparison of statin users revealed no indication that one type of statin offered better protection against Alzheimer disease than another

Montreal, January 16, 2018 - Data from more than 465,000 statin users over a period of eighteen years has revealed that fungus-derived, or lipophilic, statins were not associated with decreased incidence of Alzheimer disease when compared with synthetic, or hydrophilic, statins. The research, published in the journal Neurology, was undertaken in order to clarify whether certain characteristics of statins could influence their neuro-protective properties.

“There have been inconsistent claims over the years that statins may be associated with lower rates of Alzheimer disease,” said Dr. Paul Brassard, an epidemiologist at the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital, the paper’s lead author. “However, most studies compare statin users with non-users. This is potentially problematic because it compares people with different health conditions. Ours is the first observational study to look only at patients who take statins. In other words, we were comparing like-with-like and, therefore, getting a more accurate picture of this particular association. Our finding was of an insignificant difference between the two types of statins in relation to the risk of Alzheimer disease.”

The data employed by Dr. Brassard and his colleagues was drawn from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, which is the world’s largest longitudinal population-based assemblage of clinical records. The study focused on patients over the age of sixty who were newly prescribed statins between 1994 and 2012, and were followed until 2015. Analysis determined no statistically significant difference in the observed rate of Alzheimer disease between patients taking fungus-derived statins as compared to those taking synthetics.

Nonetheless, the modest variation that was observed – where the lipophilic statins, those that are more quickly absorbed in fatty tissue, were associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer than the hydrophilic, which are less well-absorbed in fat – does call for further study. An accompanying editorial supports this conclusion, while applauding the paper for providing “important new information in the statin saga.”

“Statins are very effective at their intended function, which is cardiovascular protection by lowering lipids,” said Dr. Brassard, who is a public health physician at the McGill University Health Centres. “However, claims have been made for other benefits they may confer, including against Alzheimer. These claims have not always been fully explored because statins are not prescribed for those indications. That’s why it is important to look into every aspect of a medication in order to validate or reject these supposed effects.”

Dr. Brassard also points out that dementia involves a wide array of causes, so another area for additional research would be to differentiate whether statins have any effect on different manifestations of neurodegeneration.

“At this point, we don’t see that an association with Alzheimer risk ought to be a primary concern when clinicians are deciding upon which statin to give to their patients who are over sixty years of age,” Dr. Brassard said. “Our belief is that this should not be a consideration when choosing which statin to take.” “

Comparative effect of statins on the risk of incident Alzheimer disease,” Liliya Sinyavskaya, Serge Gauthier, Christel Renoux, Sophie Dell'Aniello, Samy Suissa and Paul Brassard, Neurology,

To arrange interviews with Dr. Brassard, contact:

Tod Hoffman
Research Communications Officer
Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital
Office: 514-340-8222, ext. 28661

For further information about the Lady Davis Institute, visit http:

For further information about the Jewish General Hospital, visit