Study finds possible link to Alzheimer’s disease and some over-the-counter pills

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DENVER -- Researchers say they have found a possible link to medications you may take daily like Benadryl and Xanax, to Alzheimer’s disease. The study found, the more you take and the longer you take it, the greater the risk. It was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than five million Americans. Dr. Huntington Potter, the Director for Alzheimer’s Disease Programs at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus said,  "If all of us live to 85, half of us will have Alzheimer's disease."

That’s why researchers are working tirelessly to find a cure. Now, a new link connects the disease to the long term use of some common drugs including antihistamines, sleep aides and antidepressants.

"Acetycholine is a chemical that is used to signal between nerve cells in the brain and it's very important for memory,” said Dr. Potter.  "Drugs that affect acetycholine can reduce your memory."

But Dr. Potter says while you may be able to adjust your risk level a little bit with lifestyle changes, more studies are needed and he doesn’t recommend changing your medication decisions without talking to your doctor.

"The increased risk is pretty small, and this is what we call a correlative study so it cannot prove cause and effect,” he added.

While researchers continue to look for a cure, others work to give Alzheimer’s patients some hope by providing support to older adults and their families.

"Here at the Senior Resource Center we let them be themselves," said LoriAnn Aguinaldo. She’s a certified nursing assistant at the Senior Resource Center in Denver.  "We can interact with them all day and take the pressure off the families."

A pressure the Dr. Potter said costs $220 billion annually.

See the study here

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