You probably know that keeping your fat levels in check is essential for a healthy heart. But did you know that it might also affect your brain?
According to a new study, older folks who have their cholesterol and triglyceride levels bouncing up and down may be more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
This doesn’t mean that dancing lipids cause dementia, but it shows a curious link.
The Scientists behind the Discovery
Dr. Suzette J. Bielinski, a researcher from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, led the study. She and her team feel that finding ways to prevent Alzheimer’s and related dementias is an urgent need.
Regular screenings for cholesterol and triglycerides, the fats in our blood, are part of routine check-ups.
Looking at how these levels change over time could help spot those who are at a higher risk of dementia. It might also help us understand why and how dementia develops.
The Detective Work
For this study, the team used health care data to find 11,571 people who were 60 or older and did not have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
They looked at their cholesterol and triglyceride levels on at least three different days in the five years before the study started.
The scientists then split these people into five equal groups. The groups were based on how much their fat levels changed. The first group’s levels were steady, while the fifth group’s levels were all over the place.
The researchers then watched these people for about 13 years on average. In this time, 2,473 of them developed Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
The Unusual Findings
After considering other factors that could increase the risk of dementia, like gender, race, education, and treatments to lower lipids, the team found something interesting.
Those in the group with the most fluctuating fat levels had a higher risk of dementia than those with steady levels. The difference was about 19% for total cholesterol and about 23% for triglycerides.
On the other hand, the team didn’t find any link between changing levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) or good cholesterol (HDL) and a higher risk of dementia.
The Puzzle Remains
But here’s the catch. The team isn’t sure why or how changing fat levels are linked to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. More studies are needed to confirm these results and look at these changes over time.
A limitation of the study is that it looked at Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias as a whole, without differentiating between the types of dementia.
But this unusual link between wobbly fat levels and dementia might provide a fresh direction for future research. And who knows? It might also lead to new ways to prevent these brain diseases.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and Omega-3 fats and carotenoid supplements could improve memory.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and higher magnesium intake could help benefit brain health.
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