You may know that lowering your cholesterol artificially with statins can cause congestive heart failure. But did you know statins can also increase your risk of Parkinson's disease?

A few years ago, I warned that statins might damage your brain. Why? Your brain is mostly fat. It needs a lot of cholesterol for cell membrane support. Cholesterol from your blood doesn't easily get into your brain because of the blood brain barriers. It doesn't have to. Your brain has the same enzyme, HMG-co reductase, which makes cholesterol in your liver.

Statin drugs slow that enzyme. This is what causes congestive heart failure. While I haven't seen data confirming that statins do wipe out your brain's production, it makes sense that it could happen. The same enzyme also makes critical CoQ10. When statins slow your body's production of cholesterol, it also lowers your levels of this nutrient. And studies repeatedly show CoQ10 helps Parkinson's.

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Take this study for example: Researchers followed 6,465 persons 55 years and older. They found higher levels of serum cholesterol are directly associated with lower risk of Parkinson's in women. They did not find this in men. The lower the cholesterol, the higher your risk of developing Parkinson's.

Admittedly, this study measured only cholesterol in blood. Blood cholesterol may not cross into the brain. However, the cholesterol and CoQ10 connection is too great not to emphasize. Low cholesterol might weaken your cell's physical cell structure or membrane characteristics. Your neurons are loaded with cholesterol, made by the brain itself. A deficiency may allow more toxins in. Cholesterol is a known free-radical scavenger. Your body makes it in tandem with CoQ10. Low cholesterol may correspond with low CoQ10.

I have always maintained that cholesterol is not the culprit in vascular disease, and that forcibly lowering it may do more harm than good. Here's more proof. There are too many variables in cholesterol numbers to give precise guidance. I like to see total cholesterol between 180-200 mg/dL. But if you're 20 points higher, don't rush to take drugs. Your nervous system might just do a lot better than your neighbor who takes statins!

Ref: de Lau, L.M., P.J. Koudstaal, et al. "Serum Cholesterol Levels and the Risk of Parkinson's Disease," Am J Epidemiol, 2006.

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