• University of Arizona researchers analysed the data for almost 560,000 people with type 2 diabetes
  • The study found that patients taking TZDs reduced their risk of dementia by 22%
  • The study also found patients taking sulfonylureas increased dementia risk by 12% compared to those taking metformin.

Thiazolidinediones, a common type of drug used to treat type 2 diabetes may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by increasing oxygen supply to the brain.

A research team from the University of Arizona reviewed the health records of 559,106 American adults who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between 2000 and 2019.

Researchers found that patients taking thiazolidinediones, commonly known as TZDs, were 22% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

The drug works by reducing the body’s resistance to insulin, and so the hormone is allowed to work more effectively at improving blood glucose control. In the UK, the drug is better known under its brand name, Actos.

Patients were also compared to others receiving other diabetes medications including metformin or sulfonylureas.

According to the study, patients who took TZD for an average of almost eight years had a 20% to 57% reduction in Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia cases.

Dr Jin Zhou , a lead author of the study, commented: “Type 2 diabetes is associated with elevated risk of all cause dementia, including its two main subtypes, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.”

“Vascular diseases increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, so TZD’s reduction in vascular dementia may also reduce Alzheimer’s development.”

However, researchers also found that people taking sulfonylureas were 12% more likely to develop dementia than those taking metformin.

The research has been published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.

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