People who take laxatives regularly may be at increased risk of dementia – ScienceDaily

According to a study published online February 22, 2023 in the online edition of people who regularly use laxatives, a common treatment for constipation, have a more than 50% increased risk of developing dementia than people who do not use laxatives neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The researchers also found that people who only used osmotic laxatives, a type of laxative that draws water into the colon to soften stools, were at even greater risk. Other types of laxatives are bulking, stool softening, and stimulant. The study does not prove that laxatives cause dementia. It just shows an association.

“Constipation and laxative use are common among middle-aged and older adults,” said study author Feng Sha, PhD, of the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Guangdong, China. “However, regular use of laxatives can alter the gut microbiome, potentially affecting nerve signals from the gut to the brain or increasing the production of gut toxins that can affect the brain. Our research found that regular use of over-the-counter laxatives was associated with a higher risk of dementia, particularly in people who used multiple types of laxatives or osmotic laxatives.

Sha noted that osmotic and stimulant laxatives are not recommended for regular use, but some people use them regularly.

The study involved 502,229 people in the UK Biobank database, with an average age of 57 years, who did not have dementia at the start of the study. Of this group, 18,235 people, or 3.6%, reported regularly using over-the-counter laxatives. Regular use was defined as using a laxative most days of the week in the month prior to the study.

On average over 10 years, 218 of those who used laxatives regularly, or 1.3%, developed dementia. Of those who did not take laxatives regularly, 1,969 people, or 0.4%, developed dementia.

After accounting for factors such as age, gender, education, other medical conditions and medication use, and a family history of dementia, the researchers found that people who regularly took laxatives had a 51% increased risk of dementia compared to people who did not take laxatives regularly .

The risk of dementia also increased with the number of types of laxatives used. There was a 28% increased risk in people who took one type of laxative, compared with a 90% increased risk in people who took two or more types of laxatives.

However, among people using only one type, only those taking osmotic laxatives had an increased risk, with a 64% increase compared to those not using laxatives.

“Finding ways to reduce a person’s risk of dementia by identifying risk factors that can be modified is crucial,” Sha said. “Further research is needed to further investigate the link our research has found between laxatives and dementia. If our findings are confirmed, medical professionals could encourage people to treat constipation by making lifestyle changes, such as eating less. B. Drinking more water, more fiber and more exercise add to their daily lives.”

A limitation of the study is that laxative dosing information was not available, so the researchers could not examine the relationship between different laxative doses and dementia.

The study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Shenzhen Science and Technology Program, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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