A new study conducted in the United Kingdom has found a concerning correlation between regular laxative use and a higher risk of developing dementia. The study, led by researchers from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, followed over 10,000 participants aged 55 and older for a period of six years.
The participants were part of the EPIC-Norfolk study, which aimed to investigate the links between diet, lifestyle, and cancer. As part of the study, participants were asked about their use of laxatives, both prescribed and over-the-counter.
The results were alarming. The study found that those who reported using laxatives regularly were 50% more likely to develop dementia than those who did not use laxatives at all. This correlation was found to be particularly strong in those who had used laxatives for over one year.
The findings have raised serious concerns among healthcare professionals, who are urging caution when it comes to the use of laxatives. While they can be an effective treatment for constipation and other gastrointestinal issues, the study suggests that regular use may come with significant risks.
Dr. Ian Maidment, a senior lecturer in clinical pharmacy at Aston University in Birmingham, told The Washington Post that the study’s findings were “very worrying.”
“It is possible that the use of laxatives is an indicator of a wider problem with bowel function, and that this is what is increasing the risk of dementia,” he said. “Either way, it’s clear that we need to be more cautious when it comes to the use of laxatives.”
The study’s authors have emphasized that more research is needed to fully understand the link between laxative use and dementia risk. In the meantime, they are urging people to speak to their doctors before using laxatives on a regular basis, and to consider alternative treatments for gastrointestinal issues.