High cholesterol in middle age may increase a person’s future risk of Alzheimer’s disease, NPR reports. “Our study shows that even moderately high cholesterol levels in your 40s puts people at greater risk for Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia in later life,” says one researcher, who worked on a study of nearly 10,000 people that began in the 1960s.
“What's good for the heart is good for the mind,” she notes. But other studies show no association between lowering midlife cholesterol and lowering dementia risk. A protein in the brain called amyloid beta is also associated with Alzheimer’s; someday controlling the protein with drugs may help fend off the disease. “I envision a time where we will treat Alzheimer's disease just the way we treat cholesterol,” says another expert.