Scientists from the University of Southampton have teamed up with researchers from the University of Oxford to look at whether existing drugs for arthritis have any effect on a person's risk of developing dementia. By looking at two groups of people – one receiving the drug treatment and one not – they found that fewer people developed dementia after five years of taking the drugs, compared to those who did not receive the treatment for arthritis.
Their findings are published in the scientific journal Alzheimer's & Dementia.
Dr. Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said:
"There is increasing evidence of a key role for inflammation in diseases like Alzheimer's and this has led researchers to investigate whether drugs used to treat inflammatory diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, could also benefit people with dementia. Using good quality data from a large number of people, the experienced scientists conducting this research found that people who took certain types of arthritis drugs had a lower risk of dementia than people not taking this treatment.
"While these findings are interesting, it is not possible to rule out other factors that could have influenced dementia risk in this study, and the only way to tell if these drugs could help to tackle diseases like Alzheimer's is through comprehensive clinical trials. In the past, a number of anti-inflammatory approaches have been explored as potential Alzheimer's treatments, but with little evidence of benefits. People should only take these drugs if they have been prescribed to them by their doctor."
Explore further: Autoimmune disease may be linked to heightened dementia risk