Dementia: Good cholesterol linked to women’s brain health: Study

Researchers have found healthy levels of cholesterol impact the structure of the brain directly. Source: Getty

Maintaining good levels of cholesterol could be the key to avoiding dementia later in life, newly released research has revealed.

According to scientists at the University of Melbourne women could live happier and healthier lives if they keep their cholesterol in check.

Studies published in Brain Imaging and Behaviour found women with normal levels of ‘good cholesterol’, had less damage to the white matter in their brains in 2012 than they did in 1992.

In a seperate study, published in the same journal, researchers also found they can predict what a woman’s memory performance at age 70 will be like from the volume of grey matter in their brain when they are 60-years-old.

The grey matter is an important part of the brain that is linked to a person’s speech, hearing, feelings, seeing and memory. While the white matter helps develop communication to and from grey matter areas, and between grey matter and other parts of the body.

According to Professor Cassandra Szoeke, this is an essential part of research that will help predict and manage cognitive decline in healthy older women.

Read more: One in two women to suffer from dementia, stroke or Parkinson’s: Study

“They [the studies] build on a growing body of research helping us pick up the warning signs of dementia earlier,” she explained.

“In fact, just this year the National Institute of Ageing published proposed criteria to diagnose dementia and pre dementia on biomarkers, like brain scan results and body fluid measures of protein levels.”

Earlier this month a Dutch study revealed just how high the chances are of being impacted by dementia, Parkinson’s or stroke.

Research published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found women are at greater risk of being affected by the three conditions. Researchers from the Erasmus MC University Medical Center in Rotterdam say one in two women and a third of all men will suffer either dementia, stroke or Parkinson’s in their lifetime.

While age was a major risk factor, data also found women had a 48 per cent chance of developing one of the health conditions, while men had a 36 per cent chance. Women are more likely to develop dementia before men, although men are at greater risk of suffering a stroke at a young age than women. Still, women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with both dementia and stroke in their lifetime.

What are your thoughts on the findings? Have you been impacted by dementia?

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