Well, here we go again. Another year, another shocking new report on the risks of anticholinergic drugs.
This huge class of medicines includes allergy medications (antihistamines), drugs used to treat overactive bladder, and antidepressants, among others.
But guess what? Anticholinergics have also emerged as a potential culprit behind some 50,000 dementia cases per year. And if this latest study is anything to go by, that dangerous reputation won’t be changing anytime soon…
Compounding the risk
Scientists from the University of San Diego School of Medicine recruited nearly 700 men and women with an average age of 74. No participants reported cognitive issues or memory problems at the beginning of the study. But roughly one-third were taking anticholinergic drugs—at an average of 4.7 drugs per person.
For the next ten years, researchers administered comprehensive cognitive tests on an annual basis. And let’s just say, their findings—which appeared in the journal Neurology earlier this month—were troubling.
For one thing, they found that subjects who were taking at least one anticholinergic drug when the study started were nearly 50 percent more likely to end up with mild cognitive impairment (MCI)—typically the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s disease—over the next decade.
But that’s not all. The researchers also looked for Alzheimer’s biomarkers in subjects’ cerebrospinal fluid. And they found that the participants who showed these biomarkers and who also took anticholinergic drugs were four times more likely to wind up with MCI.
And those subjects at a high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s? Well, when they took anticholinergic drugs, they were 2.5 times more likely to develop MCI than subjects without these risk factors who didn’t take anticholinergics.
A “double hit” to your memory
I’m always telling you that genetic susceptibility doesn’t necessarily seal your fate. Your personal decisions—about nutrition, exercise habits, and medications—make a difference. And this latest finding is a perfect illustration of that.
The study authors call the interaction between Alzheimer’s biomarkers and anticholinergic drugs a “double hit.” The biomarkers indicate that pathological changes impacting acetylcholine—a neurotransmitter that’s essential to memory and cognition—have started to set in.
And when anticholinergic drugs are introduced into the mix, they block acetylcholine activity further… delivering a one-two punch that significantly impacts memory and cognition.
To make matters worse, the study authors also note that these medications are being taken at dosages that far exceed the lowest effective recommendations. In fact, nearly 60 percent of older adults were taking the drugs at twice the recommended dosage. And nearly 20 percent were taking them at four times the recommended dosage.
It goes without saying that these prescribing practices need to stop. And the good news is, there are safe, effective alternatives that can help you combat all of the conditions anticholinergic drugs are prescribed for.
You can search for natural solutions for sleep, depression, allergies, and bladder issues by visiting my website and entering the specific condition into the search bar at the top right corner of the home page. (You can also become a subscriber to my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter for access to additional articles and special reports.)
But of course, ditching anticholinergic drugs is just one step in protecting yourself from cognitive decline. In my Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Plan, I lay out my complete, all-natural guide to protect and restore memory, strengthen focus, and build a bigger, brighter brain. To learn more about this comprehensive online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now.
“Common class of drugs linked to increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” Science Daily, 09/04/2020. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200904125116.htm)