Large scale research into a database of patients in Germany has indicated that some diabetes medication seems to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The fairly affordable drug in questio, pioglitazone, is commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, as it helps to reduce insulin resistance. It is usually sold under the brand name Actos and produced by Takeda.
The records of 146,000 patients were studied by the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases between 2004 and 2010. All the patients had no initial signs of dementia and were aged 60 and older.
13,841 of the subjects developed Alzheimers, and the figures indicated that the people who took pioglitazone were at a lower risk of developing the disease. Furthermore, every further three months that the drug was take, it was found to have reduced the likelihood further.
However, it may not be considered a significant enough reduction in risk as people were only found to have a 6% lower risk of developing the degenerative disease.
Although it has been indicated by past studies that people with uncontrolled blood sugar levels are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, those who took medication like Actos were supposedly 20% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who controlled their diabetes with insulin, showing that the drug is likely to have a further effect on reducing risk.
Anne Fink, a researcher from the study, concluded that “the long term use of pioglitazone reduces the risk of dementia incidence”, and conjectured that the drug may do this by reducing inflammation in the brain and in the nervous system.
The research is admittedly inconclusive. However, Takeda themselves have started a study that will last for five years to assess whether low doses of pioglitazone can help to prevent the onset of dementia and back up Fink’s study.

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