A head injury, stroke or brain tumor could cause dementia. But did you know your prescribed medication could put you at risk, too? >> Read more trending news Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom recently conduced a study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, to explore the link between a certain class of drugs and the memory loss condition. To do so, they used QResearch, a large database of anonymized health records, to examine nearly 285,000 adults in the U.K., aged 55 and older, between 2004 and 2016. The team then reviewed each subject’s prescription records to determine their exposure to anticholinergics, which can include antidepressants, bladder antimuscarinics, antipsychotics and antiepileptic drugs. >> Related: Common painkillers triple side effects of dementia, study says After analyzing the results, they found those on anticholinergic medications had almost a 50% increased chance of developing dementia, compared to those who didn’t have prescriptions for anticholinergic drugs. The risk was only associated with 1,095 daily doses within a 10-year period, which is equivalent to an older adult taking a strong anticholinergic medication daily for at least three years. “The study is important because it strengthens a growing body of evidence showing that strong anticholinergic drugs have long term associations with dementia risk,” coauthor Carol Coupland told CNN. “It also highlights which types of anticholinergic drugs have the strongest associations. This is important information for physicians to know when considering whether to prescribe these drugs.” Although the authors said “no firm conclusions can be drawn about whether these anticholinergic drugs cause dementia,” they hope their findings can help professionals better understand the disease. They also advised patients to not stop taking their medications until consulting with their doctor. >> Related: Rate of dementia deaths in US has more than doubled, CDC says As for antihistamines, skeletal muscle relaxants, gastrointestinal antispasmodics, antiarrhythmics, or antimuscarinic bronchodilators, the scientists noted there were no significant dementia risks associated with them.
Scientists at the University of St. Andrews taught three young gray seals to sing, literally. >> Read more trending news Seals, which generally bark, and other marine mammals are known for some of the sounds they make. Whales sing, dolphins click, penguins peep and walruses bellow. Researchers, though, were able to train the three young seals to bark out the notes to the opening bars of the theme from “Star Wars” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” The research is published in the journal Current Biology. It’s not just that teaching a seal to sing is an interesting project, St. Andrews scientists said they wanted to learn more about how seals communicate with each other, according to Smithsonian magazine. Knowing how seals communicate in the wild could become important in the future to conservation efforts.
Climate change in the Western U.S. means more intense and frequent wildfires churning out waves of smoke that scientists say will sweep across the continent to affect tens of millions of people and cause a spike in premature deaths. That emerging reality is prompting people in cities and rural areas alike to gird themselves for another summer of sooty skies along the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains — the regions widely expected to suffer most from blazes tied to dryer, warmer conditions. “There’s so little we can do. We have air purifiers and masks — otherwise we’re just like ‘Please don’t burn,’” said Sarah Rochelle Montoya of San Francisco, who fled her home with her husband and children last fall to escape thick smoke enveloping the city from a disastrous fire roughly 150 miles away. Other sources of air pollution are in decline in the U.S. as coal-fired power plants close and fewer older cars roll down highways. But those air quality gains are being erased in some areas by the ill effects of massive clouds of smoke that can spread hundreds and even thousands of miles on cross-country winds, according to researchers. With the 2019 fire season already heating up with fires from southern California to Canada, authorities are scrambling to better protect the public before smoke again blankets cities and towns. Officials in Seattle recently announced plans to retrofit five public buildings as smoke-free shelters.