The Herald (South Africa)

Arthritis drugs may cut dementia risk by half

- Laura Donnelly

DRUGS used to treat rheumatoid arthritis could halve the risk of patients developing dementia, a British study suggests.

Experts at Oxford University and NIHR Southampto­n Biomedical Research Centre analysed the records of more than 5 800 people with arthritis in the UK.

They compared 3 876 patients who took disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), particular­ly methotrexa­te, with 1 938 patients who did not.

The findings, published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Translatio­nal Research And Clinical Interventi­ons, found that those on the anti-inflammato­ry medication had about half the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

There are more than 850 000 people with dementia in the UK. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form, and the number of sufferers is expected to rise to more than one million by 2025.

Professor Chris Edwards, of the NIHR Southampto­n Biomedical Research Centre, said: “Although there is medication available that can temporaril­y reduce some symptoms or slow down the progressio­n of Alzheimer’s disease, there is currently no cure.

“This study shows a positive link between patients taking drugs to treat arthritis and reducing their risk of developing dementia, potentiall­y by up to 50%.

“The results we’ve seen make us optimistic that we are getting closer to better treating this neurologic­al disease and supports further investigat­ion in clinical trials to confirm if these drugs can be used to prevent or treat dementia.”

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