5 Unexpected Things That Seem to Lower Dementia Risk
5. Viagra (sildenafil)
This is the most speculative thing on the list, but it’s one that could have some important implications.
Just this week, Cleveland researchers published a study claiming to show that sildenafil, the active ingredient in the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, may help prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease. In brain tissue collected from Alzheimer’s patients, they found evidence that high doses of sildenafil can boost the growth of brain cells and reduce the expression of amyloid and tau proteins. And when they looked at insurance claims data, they also found that people prescribed Viagra were 69% less likely to be later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
One of the main ways that sildenafil affects the body is by relaxing our blood vessels, and it’s already used to treat certain forms of high blood pressure. So it’s plausible that its effects on circulation could also reduce dementia risk. Even before this study, there had been evidence in animals that sildenafil could reduce the risk of vascular dementia, a condition closely linked to blood clots and circulation problems.
For the time being, though, not even the authors of this study are claiming that sildenafil should be taken for dementia. But given these findings, and the relatively low cost of sildenafil now that it’s become generic, it’s certainly worth studying further.