We spend most of our adult lives monitoring our cholesterol levels, making sure that they don’t get too high. If they get above a certain number, our doctors are likely to want to put us on cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. These drugs have a long track record of reducing deaths from heart disease.
Statin use also appears to reduce the risk of dementia later in life—although it’s not clear how much of this is due to its cholesterol-lowering effects. Statins also reduce inflammation in the body, for example, which might protect the brain.
In fact, some recent studies suggest that, while high cholesterol levels at 50 maybe be bad news, high cholesterol levels at 80 may be just what the doctor ordered. Specifically, researchers have observed that elderly people with high LDL cholesterol levels are less likely to have dementia than those with low cholesterol levels.