Myth busted! Long-term use of powerful pain-relieving drugs is not associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, shows a recent study.
According to the study, long-term use of opioids, which are powerful pain relieving drugs that act on the nervous system, is not associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers from the University of Eastern Finland did not find any risk - neither for the long-term use nor for higher cumulative doses.
The team claims that the study is the most extensive one conducted on the topic so far.
The team conducted a nationwide register-based MEDALZ study and included 70,718 persons diagnosed with the Alzheimer's disease in Finland during 2005-2011, as well as 282,862 control persons.
The Opioid use may also lead to addiction or tolerance to pain-relieving effects.
Opioid use was compared between Finnish persons with the Alzheimer's disease and their control persons without the disease.
A previous study from the U.S. 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, the opioid use should be restricted to the most severe pain conditions only.
The research appeared in the Pain Medicine journal.