Long-term statin use reduces dementia risk by 30%, researchers discover

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Statins, which are commonly used to treat high cholesterol, do not cause cognition problems in the short term and may offer significant protection against dementia in the long term. This is according to new research that contradicts government warnings about these medications.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered that statin labels include a warning about memory problems associated with short-term use. A research team from Johns Hopkins Medicine found no evidence of this, based on their analysis of prior studies. In addition, they found that statin use for longer than one year reduced the risk of dementia by 29%.

“We looked at high-quality, randomized controlled trials and prospective studies that included more than 23,000 men and women with no prior history of cognitive problems,” stated Raoul Manalac, M.D., a co-primary author. “The participants in those studies were followed for up to 25 years.”

The short-term memory issues related to statins could be caused by drug interactions, since many people on statins also take other medications, the researchers surmised. The benefits of statins make sense, they wrote, because these drugs reduce or stabilize plaque in blood vessels, which is associated with dementia.

The findings were published yesterday in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.