Prescription drugs taken by two million Brits increase risk of dementia by one third, research claims

Researchers fear medicines used to treat depression, incontinence and Parkinson’s have left 20,000 with the brain-wasting condition.

They are warning doctors not to dish out anticholinergics. Academics from the University of East Anglia compared medical records of 40,770 pensioners who were diagnosed with dementia with 283,933 who were not.

Those who had taken the drugs for a year were more likely to develop dementia over the next two decades.

Prof Chris Fox, from UEA, said: “Doctors and patients should be vigilant about using anticholinergic medications.

“They need to consider the risk of long-term cognitive effects, as well as short-term effects, associated with specific drugs when weighing up risks and benefits.”

The drugs work by blocking a chemical which controls muscle movement. It is not known why they may cause dementia.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said: “We monitor the safety of all medicines. These findings will be carefully evaluated.”

One in five people on antidepressants today in the UK are being prescribed anticholinergics.

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