New research: Over the counter drugs linked to Alzheimer’s disease

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(NaturalHealth365) A new study led by Professor Shelley Gray of the University of Washington School of Pharmacy, and published on January 16, 2015 in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal, has revealed a previously hidden link between the use of some common over-the-counter drugs and Alzheimer’s. The danger drugs pinpointed by the study are all part of the class of over-the-counter anti-allergy and sleep aid medications – which include such common brand names as Benadryl, Piriton, Nytol, and others.

The study showed that these drugs greatly increase the risk of someone developing Alzheimer’s disease if used over a period of three or more years. This risk seems to be due to the anti-cholinergic blocking effects these drugs have on the nervous system. Prescription drugs such as tricyclic antidepressants in general and the bladder control drug Ditropan in particular also raised the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, as identified in the study.

What exactly are these drugs doing to cause Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?

The risk of developing Alzheimer’s seems to increase with cumulative use of these over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications. The longer someone takes these drugs, the greater their risk. Higher doses also increase the risk, and the risk may persist for long after someone stops taking these medications.

Even people with no previous memory problems or family history of Alzheimer’s are at risk.

According to Medical News Today, the study followed 3,500 men and women ages 65 and older for seven years. None of the patients had any signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia at the start of the study.

Pharmacy records on all of the patients were compiled going back 10 years to look at their prior cumulative use of these classes of drugs. Over the next seven years, the patients continued to take the drugs as they always did. Over the study period, nearly 800 of the participants developed Alzheimer’s or some other type of dementia.

What can be done for people taking these dangerous drugs?

Professor Gray is quick to tell patients who may be taking these drugs that they should not discontinue them without talking to their doctors, despite the risks. Not everyone who takes these drugs will develop dementia, but anyone on them should be monitored for signs of memory problems.

Instead, Professor Gray recommends that doctors who need to use these types of drugs on their patients, or who recommend the over-the-counter versions for minor problems, should make sure their patients are taking the lowest possible effective doses. If there are any other drugs that may provide a patient with the therapeutic benefits they need, then doctors should consider changing to those drugs.

In addition, this (almost) goes without saying, every patient ought to be their own health advocate and ask for non-toxic alternatives – to pharmaceutical drugs – whenever possible.  If your health condition has overwhelmed your energy levels, then you should seek the help of a trusted friend to improve your chances of recovery.

Keep in mind, the road to recover often requires lots of research effort; a significant amount of time spent investigating the best foods and nutritional products and a great deal of organizational skills to remain focused on healthy habits.  But, with good information and support, you can avoid the need for dangerous drugs and improve brain function – naturally.


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