To learn more, read the full article from Be Brain Fit here: Drugs That Cause Memory Loss (& what you can do)
Medicine is supposed to help you, not make you worse.
We trust doctors to prescribe drugs that make better, and we trust common over-the-counter medications to be safe and effective.
Yet when comes to matters of medicine and memory, that trust is being betrayed. Every day, millions of American are taking all sorts of pills that can do damage to their cognition, and often they’re not even aware of it.
That’s what I want to talk about today. Hi, I’m Tony Dearing of GoCogno.com, the website for people with mild cognitive impairment.
I never want to be alarmist or use scare tactics. I just want to give you good, solid information you can use to defend your cognition.
But I saw something recently that genuinely alarmed me, and I at least want to make you aware of it.
It was this article from my friends and colleagues Deane and Patrick Alban, who operate the website Be Brain Fit.
As I read this eye-opening article, it was hard to decide which was worse — how bad these drugs are for cognition, or how widely they’re being taken.
Be Brain Fit warns us that:
It’s very clear that medications carry significant risks and one of the most common risks is memory loss.
And that the three major categories of drugs known to cause memory loss and other cognitive problems are: anticholinergics, sleeping pills, or cholesterol-lowering drugs.
I really encourage you to read the full article, and there’s a link below. But here are a few takeaways.
Watch out for medication whose names start with “anti” — such as antacids, antibiotics, antihistamines — they increase the risk of dementia by 30 percent.
If you take cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins, the risk of memory loss increases four-fold.
And the risks from over-the-counter medications are equally concerning.
One study found that adults who take medications like Benadryl are at significantly greater risk for developing dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Now anyone should be concerned about that, but particularly people with mild cognitive impairment.
I asked Patrick Alban why the public is so unaware of these risks. He said:
“Ideally, this information should be relayed to patients by their doctors. But prescribing doctors likely focus on the benefits of the drug for the presenting signs and symptoms and not so much on the risks, especially cognitive issues. Also, doctors do not pay attention as much as they should to other medications their patients are taking.”
I asked him what surprised him most as the research was being done for this article.
He said: “I’m particularly concerned that common over-the-counter remedies for allergies, pain, insomnia, and acid reflux can significantly contribute to memory loss, and even dementia. Since they are readily available, there is little reason for the average person to suspect they are problematic.”
The audience that reads Be Brain Fit tends to be a little bit younger, whereas the people with MCI that I serve who have MCI are more likely to be in their 50s, 60s, 70s or older. So I asked Patrick if the risks increase as we age. And he said they absolutely do, for reasons that include:
“Decreased body size, altered body composition, and decreased liver and kidney function are some of the many reasons older adults are more likely to experience drug-related side effects.
Additionally, the average senior takes up to 5 medications causing their risk for side effects to increase substantially. And, finally, doctors are more likely to write off memory loss as a symptom of getting older rather than considering it to be caused by the drugs they prescribe.”
Now as concerning as all of this is, you can educate yourself about it, and there are many good ways to reduce your risks.
Again, I really encourage to read the article, which is available here. If you are taking prescription medications or over the counter drugs that you believe may be affecting your memory, it lays out a very specific plan for minimizing medication-induced memory loss.
I hope you find this information helpful. I thank Deane and Patrick for writing this important piece, and I thank you for joining me today.
I look forward to seeing you again next week. Until then, as always, be kind to your mind.