Zhen Zhou, PhD Research Fellow, Chronic Disease & Ageing Monash University

Monash Study Highlights Association Between Triglycerides and Risk of Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Zhen Zhou, PhDResearch Fellow, Chronic Disease & Ageing Monash University

Dr. Zhen Zhou

Zhen Zhou, PhD
Research Fellow, Chronic Disease & Ageing
Monash University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Previous studies investigating the impact of lipids on dementia have generated mixed findings. Far less research has focused on triglycerides. Our study, by leveraging data from two large-scale cohorts, found that high triglyceride levels within the normal to slightly high range measured at late life were associated with lower risk of dementia and slower cognitive decline.


MedicalResearch.com: Do lipid lowering medications have an increased risk of dementia? 

Response: We won’t be able to answer this question based on our current data. People who are on lipid-lowering medications should continue their treatments following the instruction of the doctors who take care of them, given its benefits in preventing heart disease and stroke.

Indeed, one of our analyses suggested that higher LDL cholesterol (known as ‘bad cholesterol’) may be associated with greater risk of dementia. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

  1. This paper found an association between triglycerides levels within high and high normal range may be associated with lower risk of dementia.
  2. No causal relationship has been established and there might be other factors at play, e.g. malnutrition and presence of other wasting diseases that may lower triglycerides and increase dementia risk concurrently.
  3. Our study findings do not apply to those with high triglycerides who are at increased risk of pancreatitis and heart disease. Older people SHOULD NOT seek for high triglycerides. Instead, if they have high triglyceride level over upper normal limit, they should always seek medical attention.
  4. This study only focused on triglycerides measured at late life (aged over 70) not the levels measured at mid-life. The triglycerides measured at late life may relate relatively differently to dementia risk compared with the levels measured at mid-life.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?

Response: Future studies investigating the underlying reasons that could explain the observed relationship are needed as this may provide us better insights into whether and how triglycerides interact with cognition change and dementia development.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: We emphasize that older adults should not seek higher triglycerides levels as a result of this paper. While these findings are of interest, they do not affect clinical advice from doctors. Older adults on lipid-lowering medications should continue as per their doctor’s advice. Dietary recommendations from doctors should similarly be followed.  The best way to prevent dementia is to have a healthy lifestyle and to be socially and mentally active.

Citation: Association Between Triglycerides and Risk of Dementia in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Prospective Cohort Study

Zhen Zhou, Joanne Ryan, Andrew M Tonkin, Sophia Zoungas, Paul Lacaze, Rory Wolfe, Suzanne G Orchard, Anne M Murray, John J Mcneil, Chenglong Yu, Gerald F Watts, Sultana Monira Hussain, Lawrence J Beilin, Michael Ernst, Nigel Stocks, Robyn L Woods, Chao Zhu, Christopher Reid, Raj C Shah, Trevor T Chong, Ajay Sood, Kerry M Sheets, Mark Nelson

Neurology Oct 2023, 10.1212/WNL.0000000000207923; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000207923


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Last Updated on October 30, 2023 by Marie Benz