The Surprising Link Between ‘Good Cholesterol’ And Dementia Risk

The type and amount of cholesterol that may increase risk of dementia.

The type and amount of cholesterol that may increase risk of dementia.

High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) at high levels could elevate the risk of dementia among middle-aged and older adults.

HDL-C, also known as the ‘good cholesterol’ because of its protective effect against heart disease, might play a different role in brain health.

According to a study, very high levels of HDL-C could increase the odds of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by about 30 percent.

The research team noticed that excessive levels of HDL-C in older adults appeared to be unusual and not related to diet but probably caused by a metabolic disorder.


For this study, 18,668 participants were tracked over 6 years.

Individuals with HDL cholesterol of 80 mg/dL (2.07 mmol/L) or above were 27 percent more likely to develop dementia than those with normal levels.

The normal level or the reference category of HDL cholesterol in this study was defined as 40-60 mg/dL (1.03–1.55 mmol/L).

Participants aged 75 and older were at a 42 percent higher risk of dementia than those with levels of 40-60 mg/dL.

Dr Monira Hussain, the study’s first author, said:

“While we know HDL cholesterol is important for cardiovascular health, this study suggests that we need further research to understand the role of very high HDL cholesterol in the context of brain health.

It may be beneficial to consider very high HDL cholesterol levels in prediction algorithms for dementia risk.”


The study was published in The Lancet Regional Health—Western Pacific (Hussain et al., 2023).

Get free email updates

Join the free PsyBlog mailing list. No spam, ever.