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Article by Christina Ianzito, AARP


“A large British study has found that the frequent use of a common class of medications known as anticholinergics may be associated with an increased risk of dementia among older people.

Published online Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine, it confirms previous research on the medications’ risk. It also pinpoints which anticholinergics may be particularly risky, including some antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiepileptics, and drugs that treat bladder problems.

The University of Nottingham researchers analyzed data on 284,343 adults 55 and older between 2004 and 2016 and found that those with consistent exposure to certain anticholinergics — more than 1,095 daily doses during that period — were as much as 50 percent more likely to develop dementia as those who did not take the medications.

There is a clear association, says the study’s lead author, Carol Coupland, professor of medical statistics in primary care at the University of Nottingham, but “we cannot be certain that these drugs actually cause dementia.”

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