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Long Term Opioid Use Does Not Increase Alzheimer’s Risk

Summary: Researchers find no evidence that long term or higher opioid use increases a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: University of Eastern Finland.

Opioid use is not associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, shows a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland. 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.

Image shows hand full of pills.

Long-term opioid use does not increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Raija Törrönen/University of Eastern Finland.

About this neuroscience research article

Source: Heidi Taipale – University of Eastern Finland
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Raija Törrönen/University of Eastern Finland.
Original Research: Abstract for “Is Alzheimer’s Disease Associated with Previous Opioid Use?” by Heidi Taipale, PhD, Pharm Aleksi Hamina, MSc Pasi Lampela, PhD, MD Antti Tanskanen, PhilLic Jari Tiihonen, PhD, MD Niina Karttunen, PhD, Pharm Anna-Maija Tolppanen, PhD and Sirpa Hartikainen, PhD, MD in Pain Medicine. Published online August 28 2017 doi:10.1093/pm/pnx210

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
University of Eastern Finland “Long Term Opioid Use Does Not Increase Alzheimer’s Risk.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 25 October 2017.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/opioid-alzheimers-risk-7809/>.
University of Eastern Finland (2017, October 25). Long Term Opioid Use Does Not Increase Alzheimer’s Risk. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved October 25, 2017 from http://neurosciencenews.com/opioid-alzheimers-risk-7809/
University of Eastern Finland “Long Term Opioid Use Does Not Increase Alzheimer’s Risk.” http://neurosciencenews.com/opioid-alzheimers-risk-7809/ (accessed October 25, 2017).

Abstract

Is Alzheimer’s Disease Associated with Previous Opioid Use?

Objective.
 We investigated whether opioid use, duration of use, and cumulative dose are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Methods. A Finnish nationwide nested case-control study, MEDALZ, included 70,718 individuals with AD and up to four age-, sex-, and region of residence–matched comparison individuals. The cohort included all Finnish persons with a clinically verified AD diagnosis during 2005 to 2011; the mean age was 80 years (SD = 7 years), and 65% were women. Register-based data on opioid purchases (excluding codeine) were modeled into drug use periods using the PRE2DUP method. Cumulative opioid doses were transformed to total standardized doses (TSDs). We utilized a three-year time window between exposure (opioid use) and outcome (AD) to avoid reverse causality. Analyses were adjusted for comorbid conditions and drug use.

Results.
 Opioid use was not associated with an increased risk of AD (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.00, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.98–1.03). Neither longer duration of use (cumulative use for >365 days: adjusted OR = 1.02, 95% CI = 0.96–1.08) nor high cumulative doses (>90 TSDs: adjusted OR = 1.02, 95% CI = 0.98–1.07) of opioids was associated with risk of AD.

Conclusions. Although opioid use was not associated with an increased risk of AD, further studies should be performed to assess the safety of long-term opioid use in terms of other cognitive effects.

“Is Alzheimer’s Disease Associated with Previous Opioid Use?” by Heidi Taipale, PhD, Pharm Aleksi Hamina, MSc Pasi Lampela, PhD, MD Antti Tanskanen, PhilLic Jari Tiihonen, PhD, MD Niina Karttunen, PhD, Pharm Anna-Maija Tolppanen, PhD and Sirpa Hartikainen, PhD, MD in Pain Medicine. Published online August 28 2017 doi:10.1093/pm/pnx210

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