Regular Use of Laxatives Linked to Risk for All-Cause Dementia

Risk for all-cause, vascular dementia was increased with number of regularly used laxative types

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Medically Reviewed By:
Meeta Shah, M.D.

THURSDAY, Feb. 23, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Regular use of laxatives, especially use of multiple laxative types, is associated with an increased risk for all-cause dementia, according to a study published online Feb. 22 in Neurology.

Zhirong Yang, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shenzhen, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving U.K. Biobank participants aged 40 to 69 years with no history of dementia. The association between regular use of laxatives, defined as self-reported use in most days of the week for the last four weeks, and incidence of dementia was examined.

Of the 502,229 participants, 18,235 (3.6 percent) reported regular laxative use. The researchers found that 1.3 percent of participants with regular use of laxatives and 0.4 percent of those with no regular use developed all-cause dementia during a mean follow-up of 9.8 years. Regular use of laxatives was associated with an increased risk for all-cause dementia and vascular dementia (hazard ratios, 1.51 and 1.65, respectively), but not Alzheimer dementia, in a multivariable analysis. An increased risk for both all-cause and vascular dementia was seen with the number of regularly used laxative types. Among those using only one type of laxative, the risk for all-cause and vascular dementia was significantly increased only for those using osmotic laxatives (hazard ratios, 1.64 and 1.97, respectively).

"If regular laxative use has a true causative association with dementia risk, future studies on the associations of laxatives with other chronic diseases, such as stroke, depression, and Parkinson's diseases, which may insidiously develop through similar mechanisms in terms of inflammation and alternation of gut microbiota, are warranted," the authors write.

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