Previous studies examining the association of plasma cholesterol levels with the risk for development of Alzheimer disease (AD) have been inconclusive. We examined the impact of baseline and lifetime plasma total cholesterol levels averaged across many years on the risk for AD in a large, population-based cohort.
Five thousand two hundred nine subjects from the Framingham Study original cohort underwent biennial evaluation for cardiovascular risk factors since 1950, with estimations of serum total cholesterol levels at 19 of these 25 biennial examinations. The study sample consisted of 1026 subjects from this cohort who were alive and free of stroke and dementia at examination cycle 20 (1988-1989) and had undergone apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotyping. The main outcome measure was incident AD diagnosed using standard criteria, according to average total cholesterol levels across biennial examination cycles 1 to 15 and baseline total cholesterol level measured at the 20th biennial examination cycle.
Alzheimer disease developed in 77 subjects from 1992 to 2000. After adjustment for age, sex, APOE genotype, smoking, body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters), coronary heart disease, and diabetes, we found no significant association between the risk for incident AD and average cholesterol level at biennial examination cycles 1 to 15 (hazard ratio per 10-mg/dL [0.3-mmol/L] rise, 0.95; 95% confidence interval, 0.87-1.04) or baseline total cholesterol level at examination 20 (hazard ratio, 0.97; 95% confidence interval, 0.90-1.05).
In this large, population-based cohort, baseline and long-term average serum total cholesterol levels were not associated with the risk for incident AD.