More evidence that cholesterol-rich meat, dairy & eggs increase the risk of dementia
Want to maintain your brain and stay sane in the membrane well into your Golden Years? Then lower your cholesterol levels now, warns an epidemiological report published recently in the medical journal Dementia and Geriatrics Cognitive Disorders.
The new research cites alarming statistical findings that decisively link Alzheimer’s disease — an incurable and debilitating cognitive dysfunction affecting more than five million Americans (mostly) over 65 years old — with heightened cholesterol levels. Although a surfeit of scientific studies has already implicated the overconsumption of inherently high-cholesterol animal products in four of the top six causes of death in the U.S. and there have been previous studies linking Alzheimer’s (number seven) with high cholesterol, this new report is considered the current gold standard on the subject. Basically, between 1964 and 1973, medical researchers at Kaiser Permanente and the University of Kuopio in Finland collected cholesterol data* from nearly 10,000 patients aged 40 to 45, then checked back 30 years later to see who had developed dementia. The results showed that:
• Those with the highest cholesterol levels (240 milligrams per deciliter of blood and above) in middle age were 66 percent more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease in old age than those with lower cholesterol.
• Those with only moderately high cholesterol (between 200 and 239 milligrams per deciliter) still had a 52 percent increased risk of developing vascular dementia, the second most prevalent type of dementia after Alzheimer’s.
While uncontrollable factors such as age, genetics and a history of head injury contribute to one’s chances of developing dementia, lifestyle changes play a key role in decreasing risk**. Optimistically speaking, with health care reform currently front and center on the political stage, we can hope that this study acts as a wake up call for the more than 105 million Americans with high cholesterol to lower their levels by exercising more and eating better. And hopefully, they’ll be able to reduce their numbers without taking statin drugs, which are associated with dangerous side effects.
If you or a loved one want lower cholesterol levels, going vegan is the best and healthiest way to do this because — unlike meat, dairy and eggs — all plant-based foods are 100% cholesterol-free! To learn more, read this interview with David Jenkins, M.D., lead researcher of the “Portfolio study,” which measured the impact of various foods on cholesterol levels and compared the results of different diets with the use of statin medications. Then, if you or a loved one decide to lower your cholesterol by going vegan, follow this easy step-by-step approach to gradually making the switch.
* The researchers did not distinguish between “good” (HDL) and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol because the health impacts of these different types of lipids had not yet been established when the study started four and a half decades ago. Furthermore, while the results strongly indicate a causative relationship between high cholesterol and development of dementia, researchers remain unable to definitively isolate the mechanism responsible for the correlation.
** It is noteworthy that another study published August 6th in the journal Human Brain Mapping linked obesity with brain shrinkage, which scientists believe could also be a cause of dementia.