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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003 Nov;74(11):1530-5.

Serum lipids and memory in a population based cohort of middle age women.

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  • 1Departments of Geriatrics, Neurology, Pharmacology & Toxicology, and Epidemiology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas 72205, USA.



To assess the relation between serum lipids and memory in a healthy middle age cohort of women.


For 326 women in the Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project aged 52-63 years, serum lipids were measured annually, and memory was assessed during the eighth annual visit.


There was a small but significant association between current low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations and memory; for total cholesterol (TC) the association approached significance. Better memory was associated with positive changes in TC and LDL-C based on lipid measurements three years, but not six years, earlier. Memory performance was lowest among women in the lowest quartile of current LDL-C values and among women whose LDL-C levels declined over the previous three years. High density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and triglyceride concentrations were unassociated with memory. The association between memory and TC and LDL-C was primarily related to immediate recall and not delayed recall performance on the word list task. Low cholesterol has been linked with depression, but lipid measures and self-rated mood were unrelated.


Higher serum concentrations of LDL-C, and relatively recent increases in TC and LDL-C concentrations, are associated with better memory in healthy middle age women. Possible cognitive effects of cholesterol reduction should be considered in future studies of lipid lowering agents.

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