A recent study has shown that there may be a link between low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and memory loss.
The researchers measured HDL cholesterol levels and gave short-term verbal memory tests to 3,673 British civil servants, with 25% being women, between 1995 and 1997 and again between 2002 and 2004. Participants whose HDL levels decreased during the five years between tests had a 61% increased risk of a decreased ability to remember words.
The researchers found a 27% increased loss of memory on a word test at the age of 55 among those with the lowest HDL levels, compared to those with the highest levels. By the age of 60, the rate of memory loss had increased to 53%.
Study author Archana Singh-Manoux states that, “our results shown HDL cholesterol to be important for memory.”
The researchers found no link between total cholesterol and memory loss and also found that using statins to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol had no effect on memory loss.
Several other researchers, including Dr. Ronal Peterson, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the May Clinic, have cautioned that these results should not be taken too serious yet. Dr. Anatol Kontush, research director at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM), says “the biochemistry underlying HDL and brain function is completely unclear.”
I think that even if low levels of HDL are not detrimental to memory, people should be taking steps to raise HDL and lower LDL, which has been associated with good health.