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Saturday, February 21, 2015

New Study Shows Common Over-The-Counter Medications Linked to Alzheimer's

New Study Shows Common Over-The-Counter Medications Linked to Alzheimer's
A 7-year study just completed by the University of Washington and Seattle’s Group Health Research Institute showed that there are hidden dangers in using over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Long term use of OTC medications such as Benadryl and Tylenol PM increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The longer the use, the higher the risk

OTCs can be purchased without a prescription. They are considered safe to use, as long as the user follows directions. However, a recent study showed that medications such as antihistamines found in Benadryl, and sleep aids found in Tylenol PM, can increase the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's. The study tracked 3,500 older adults using medications that have an anticholinergic blocking effect on the nervous system. Anticholinergics are a class of drugs that block the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain. These drugs are used in medications that treat such health conditions as asthma, incontinence, gastrointestinal cramps and muscular spasms, depression and sleep disorders.

Short-term use does not seem to increase the risk for dementia, but long-term use does. Long-term use is defined as three years or more of regular use. As Shelly Gray, professor of pharmacy at the University of Washington explained, “We know that these medications may have an effect on memory, and we always assumed that these effects were reversible. We didn’t think these medications were changing the brain permanently. Our study does suggest a link between the highest use and increased dementia risk."

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