A new statistical study has confirmed an association between use of certain anticholinergic drugs (commonly prescribed for the treatment of depression, Parkinson’s Disease and bladder problems) and a heightened risk of developing dementia.
Other anticholinergics, taken to treat hay fever, travel sickness or stomach cramps, appear not to carry a similar association.
Experts suggest consumers should not be over-worried, yet.
“It is important to be cautious about associations as they do not prove causation”. Prof Martin Rossor. Dementia Research.
Westbrook, I. (2018). Dementia risk linked to some medicines. London: BBC Health News, April 26th 2018.
This relates to:
Richardson, K. Fox, C. [and] Maidment, I. [et al]. (2018). Anticholinergic drugs and risk of dementia: case-control study. BMJ. April 25th 2018; 361: k1315.
See also the BMJ Editorial:
Gray, SL [and] Hanlon, JT. (2018). Anticholinergic drugs and dementia in older adults. BMJ. April 25th 2018; 361: k1722.
“People who’d taken anticholinergic antidepressants, drugs for Parkinson’s Disease, and drugs used for urinary incontinence were more likely to have developed dementia. Those who’d taken anticholinergic drugs for cardiovascular or gastrointestinal conditions did not have an increased risk”.
An NHS Choices Behind the Headlines critical appraisal offers a sense of proportion.
“It is also important to stress that the researchers think the risk to individuals is small”.
Some antidepressants and incontinence drugs linked to dementia. London: NHS Choices; Behind the Headlines, April 26th 2018.