According to a new study, an inexpensive, generic diabetes medication may also be able to stave off the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.  

The study was conducted by researchers at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.  Researchers tracked data from 146,000 patients aged 60 and over who did not have any signs of dementia at the beginning of the study.  They found that those using a certain generic medication for type-2 diabetes, called pioglitazone, were less likely to develop Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. 

Within the study, 13,841 subjects eventually developed dementia.  But the risk for patients taking pioglitazone was significantly reduced with each additional three months the drug was prescribed.

Why would a diabetes medication ward off Alzheimer's disease?  Researchers speculated that pioglitazone helped prevent dementia by reducing inflammation in the brain and nervous system. The development of Alzheimer's has also been linked to poor blood sugar control so this could be a factor as well.

Conclusive proof of the link between this medication and it's ability to prevent dementia is still probably several years and a more formal study away.  But for now, it points health care researchers in an interesting direction with their studies.

Pioglitazone is sold under the brand name Actos by the Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd.

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