Cheap diabetes medication could halve the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

What is dementia?

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Despite the dismal forecasts, there are green shoots emerging. Researchers continue to uncover ways to reduce your risk of the mind-robbing condition. A new study has identified a cheap medicine that could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 54 percent in total.

Between a healthy diet and regular exercise, there are various lifestyle tweaks that can see your risk of dementia fall.

However, research proposes a new candidate that could be added to your arsenal of protection against the mind-robbing condition.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, found that a cheap pill taken by millions of diabetics could “halve” the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The affordable tablets, costing about 30p each, could be a “game changer”, according to the scientists.

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Actos, known medically as pioglitazone, could help slow mental decline – slashing the rates of the brain condition.

Pioglitazone is currently used to help control blood sugar levels by boosting the hormone insulin.

Lead author Dr Eosu Kim, from Yonsei University in South Korea, said: “Since dementia develops for years before diagnosis, there may be an opportunity for intervening before it progresses.”

The benefits linked to the pill were strongest for those who also had a history of stroke or ischaemic heart disease.

These patients were 43 and 54 percent less likely to develop dementia, respectively.

What’s more, this amount was calculated after accounting for potentially aggravating factors, such as high blood pressure, smoking and physical activity.

Overall, incidence of dementia fell by 16 percent among participants prescribed the drug.

Interestingly, the longer the patients took pioglitazone, the lower their risk was.

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The research team reported that the risk fell by 22 and 37 percent in people who used the medication for two and four years, respectively.

The study findings were based on 91,218 individuals in South Korea tracked for an average of ten years, with 3,467 participants taking pioglitazone.

However, the study findings suggest that only people with diabetes might be able to reap this benefit.

Dr Kim said: “These results provide valuable information on who could potentially benefit from pioglitazone use for prevention of dementia.

“In some previous studies of people with dementia or at risk of cognitive decline who did not have diabetes, pioglitazone did not show any protection against dementia.

“So, it is likely a critical factor affecting the effectiveness is the presence of diabetes. More research is needed to confirm these findings.”

Furthermore, the small pill doesn’t come without potential side effects, with users reporting swelling, weight gain, bone loss and congestive heart failure.

The team added that more research, which will focus on the long-term safety of the drug as well as the optimal dose, is currently needed.

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