Common drug for constipation is linked to higher dementia risk

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Laxatives, usually the last resort to alleviate constipation when lifestyle modifications fail, have come under scientific scrutiny due to a groundbreaking study by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

This study indicates that regular users of laxatives might be at over 50% increased risk of developing dementia compared to non-users.

A Comprehensive Study

The investigation engaged 502,229 participants from the UK biobank database, all dementia-free at the study’s inception.

Amongst them, 3.6% reported habitual over-the-counter laxative use, defined as usage on most days in the preceding month to the study.

Following a ten-year period, 1.3% of regular laxative users developed dementia compared to 0.4% of non-users.

A closer inspection revealed a 51% augmented risk of dementia in regular laxative users after standardizing for various demographic and medical factors.

Types of Laxatives

The research discerned an even higher risk associated with the exclusive use of osmotic laxatives, which draw water to the colon to facilitate stool softening.

However, the study did not establish a causal relationship between laxatives and dementia, suggesting only an associative link.

Gut-Brain Axis

The study propounds that regular laxative use might alter gut microbiome, potentially impacting nerve signaling to the brain or escalating intestinal toxin production affecting the brain.

Hence, modifying the intestinal environment through chronic laxative use could theoretically influence brain health.

Preventive Measures for Dementia

While dementia cannot be utterly prevented, certain lifestyle adaptations can potentially mitigate its risk:

  • Maintaining Mental and Social Activity: Fosters active brain function and might diminish dementia risk.
  • Regular Exercise: Promotes brain health and potentially wards off dementia.
  • Healthy Diet: Especially a Mediterranean-style diet, could potentially diminish dementia risk.
  • Managing Chronic Conditions: Helps in reducing associated risks of dementia.
  • Adequate Sleep: Crucial for optimal brain function.
  • Stress Management: Chronic stress is a known risk factor for dementia, managing it is crucial.
  • Avoiding Smoking and Excessive Alcohol: Both are linked to an increased risk of dementia.


This in-depth study, while not establishing causation, illuminates a noteworthy association between regular laxative use and increased dementia risk, urging a reevaluation of laxative usage and encouraging further research into the gut-brain axis.

Implementing the suggested lifestyle modifications can contribute to better brain health and possibly reduce the risk of developing dementia.

The study underlines the critical need for developing a deeper understanding of our body’s internal ecosystems and their long-term impacts on our overall health.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about walking patterns may help identify specific types of dementia, and common high blood pressure drugs may help lower your dementia risk.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce the risk of dementia, and tea and coffee may help lower your risk of stroke, dementia.

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