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Ties between cholesterol and Parkinson’s in women

Thursday November 30, 2006

Nov 23, 2006 (Reuters) - Women with higher levels of total cholesterol appear to be at decreased risk for developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a report by researchers in the Netherlands.

Exactly why this association is not seen in men is unclear, but it may relate to a stronger association in women between levels of cholesterol and coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that has shown promise against Parkinson’s disease in animal studies and clinical trials.

The findings are based on an analysis of data from the Rotterdam Study, including 2654 men and 3811 women at least 55 years of age. The average follow-up period was 9.4 years.

Dr. Monique M. B. Breteler, from Erasmus Medical Center and colleagues found that the risk of Parkinson’s disease fell by 23 percent for each mmol/L increase in the total cholesterol.

This association, which was confined to women, held true after adjusting for several possible confounders, the investigators report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Regarding the gender-based differences uncovered, previous reports have suggested that there is a stronger correlation between total cholesterol and coenzyme Q10 levels in women than in men. "On the other hand, lipid-modifying effects of estrogens have been reported that might account for the observed differences between men and women," the authors note.

"Our results call for further research on the relation among cholesterol, coenzyme Q10, and the risk of Parkinson’s disease," they add.