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Effect of Statins on Alzheimer's May Depend on Gender, Race

Type of statin used also makes a difference; no benefit seen for black men

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MONDAY, Dec. 12, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Effectiveness of statin use in Alzheimer's prevention may depend on the specific statin, and the gender and race or ethnicity of the patient, according to a study published online Dec. 12 in JAMA Neurology.

Julie Zissimopoulos, Ph.D., of the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues tracked 399,979 statin users, all aged 65 or older, who took the medications between 2006 and 2013.

Overall, the researchers linked high use of statins to a 15 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's in women and a 12 percent lower risk in men compared to those who had low use. Those who took simvastatin had 10 to 23 percent lower risk, depending on their gender and race. However, the researchers saw no benefit for black men. Among those who used atorvastatin the most, white men and black men had no apparent benefit, while the risk of Alzheimer's was 16 to 39 percent lower for white women, black women, and Hispanics. Only white women appeared to gain a benefit from high usage of pravastatin and rosuvastatin: They had about an 18 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

"The reduction in Alzheimer's disease risk varied across statin molecules, sex, and race/ethnicity. Clinical trials that include racial and ethnic groups need to confirm these findings," the authors write. "Because statins may affect Alzheimer's disease risk, physicians should consider which statin is prescribed to each patient."

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