Monday, 30 October 2017

Long-term opioid use does not increase risk of Alzheimer's disease

Following on the motto of this blog concerning not writing articles on topics that have already been fairly covered throughout different channels, I am again refraining from mentioning anything further on this matter. However, due to the medical relevance of this issue and our current easy access to hospital pain killers, prescription pills, the growing interest from pharmacovigilants has never been stronger, hence demanding a quick yet very important note.

A few days ago, the blog Science Mission posted a short summary to a really interesting topic of a classic doubt/suspicion that was on many people's heads. The public was concerned that opioids would be associated to higher incidence of Alzheimer's. When considering opioids, we don't immediately have to go for the hardcore street heroin; we can also look into its clinical cousin, the semi-synthetic opioid - diamorphine - used in hospitals. 

Scientists performed studies on the relationship between long-term use of opioids and incidence of Alzheimer's and came to the conclusion that a direct cause-effect cannot be established or any blame attributed to the opioid itself. Be it due to duration of usage or even due to the sum of the different doses used.

Let's take a look into Science Mission's post where you can also find links to the articles debated.

"Long-term opioid use does not increase risk of Alzheimer's disease

 Long-term opioid use does not increase risk of Alzheimer's disease

Opioid use is not associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, shows a recent study. Researchers did not find any risk neither for long-term use nor for higher cumulative doses. Opioids are powerful pain relieving drugs that act on the nervous system.

Published in Pain Medicine, the study is the most extensive one conducted on the topic so far. A previous study from the US reported an association between high cumulative doses of opioids and an increased risk of dementia, but the Finnish study does not confirm this finding.

However, several adverse effects are related to opioid use, such as drowsiness and reduced alertness, and for this reason, opioid use should be restricted to the most severe pain conditions only. Opioid use may also lead to addiction or tolerance to pain-relieving effects.

Opioid use was compared between Finnish persons with Alzheimer's disease and their control persons without the disease. The study was part of the nationwide register-based MEDALZ study and included 70,718 persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in Finland during 2005-2011, as well as 282,862 control persons.
Original post from Science Mission @

Post image kindly taken from

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