I’ve warned you before that anticholinergic drugs can increase dementia risk.
But a recent, large study has shown that this risk starts much earlier — and lasts much longer — than anyone expected. In fact, anticholinergics continue to raise your risk of dementia for a full two decades after exposure.
You might be thinking: No big deal… it’s not like I take any anticholinergic drugs. But I want to make it very clear that most people have used these medications at some point in their lives.
These drugs are both routinely prescribed and available over-the-counter for issues ranging from overactive bladder and muscle spasms to motion sickness, nausea, and diarrhea — not to mention allergies and lung diseases like COPD and asthma.
Basically, any condition that affects the contraction and relaxation of your muscles.
So chances are good that you’ve taken at least one.
And we’ve known for years that these drugs affect cognitive function. (That’s why doctors are discouraged from prescribing them to older patients in particular.) But this newest study paints a pretty grim picture of just how far-reaching the problem is.
This case-control study used data from patient records at nearly 675 practices across the UK. Researchers looked at the anticholinergic medications prescribed to these patients, and organized their “anticholinergic cognitive burden” (or ACB, for short) into three categories:
- ACB score of 3: The patient was prescribed at least one drug with definite anticholinergic activity. Examples include Amitriptyline, Benztropine, Clozapine, Dicyclomine, and Oxybutynin.
- ACB score of 2: The patient was prescribed at least one drug with moderate anticholinergic activity. Examples include Amantadine, Belladonna alkaloids, Loxapine, and Cyclobenzaprine.
- ACB score of 1: The patient was prescribed at least one drug with possible anticholinergic activity. Examples include Prednisone, Atenolol, Diazepam, Morphine, and Warfarin.
(For a complete list of drugs in their respective ACB categories, I suggest searching the keyword “Milton Keynes ACB Score”.)
Ultimately, these distinctions didn’t matter too much. Because results showed strong links between anticholinergics of any variety and increased future dementia risk — to the tune of ten percent, to be precise.
But there was a definite dose-response effect — which means the higher the class of ACB drugs, the higher the increase in dementia risk. The nature of the prescription seems to make a pretty big difference, too.
In fact, anticholinergic antidepressants (like Elavil™) raise your dementia risk by 13 percent. Anticholinergic urologic drugs (like Vesicare™) raise your risk by 23 percent. And anticholinergic Parkinson’s drugs (like Trihexyphenidyl) raise dementia risk by a whopping 45 percent. All of these drugs have an ACB score of 3.
In my view, it’s not worth rolling the dice with your health. For the most part, prescription drugs should be a last resort. I recommend trying a natural alternative for at least two to three months until the benefits kick in. And always be sure to work with your doctor every step of the way to determine the best plan for you.
Over the past seven years, I’ve written a great deal about natural treatments for many of the conditions anticholinergic drugs are used to treat: Parkinson’s disease, GI disorders, bladder issues, muscle spasms, and COPD. Simply head to my website, www.DrPescatore.com, and type your condition into the search bar, located in the top right corner.
Of course, ditching anticholinergic drugs is just one step in protecting yourself from dementia. In my Drug-Free Protocol for Reversing Alzheimer’s and Dementia, I lay out my complete, all-natural plan to protect and restore memory, strengthen focus, and build a bigger, brighter brain. Click here to learn more or sign up today.