Senior Woman with Medications


Brian Shilhavy
Health Impact News Editor

A recent study just published in the British Medical Journal reports that taking benzodiazepines, common drugs prescribed for anti-anxiety and insomnia, is associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Common benzodiazepines include: Valium (diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), Xanax (alprazolam) and Klonopin (clonazepam). The authors of the study reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that the use of benzodiazepines for three months or more was associated with a 51% increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

In an accompanying commentary written by Zosia Kmietowicz, it was pointed out that in 2012 the American Geriatrics Society had updated its list of inappropriate drugs for older people to include benzodiazepines, precisely because of their unwanted cognitive side effects. Yet, almost half of the elderly population continues to be prescribed these dangerous medications, and are continuing to take them. 

In another article appearing with the BMJ study, Michael McCarthy discusses another study just published in JAMA Internal Medicine. This study shows that more than half of patients with advanced dementia in U.S. nursing homes are prescribed medicines of questionable benefit.

Crimes Against the Elderly

Today’s nursing home resident is taking on average over 30 different prescription drugs. As the Baby Boomer generation moves into their senior years, they are seen as a very lucrative market for the pharmaceutical industry. In 2013, drug maker Johnson & Johnson paid out the largest criminal settlement in the history of the U.S., over $2.2 billion for illegally marketing drugs to the elderly and other vulnerable people in our society, including children and the mentally disabled.

The best-selling drug in the history of the pharmaceutical age was Lipitor, a drug marketed to lower cholesterol, and taken mainly by seniors. Lipitor’s patent expired in late 2011, allowing cheaper statin generics to come into the market. But during its strongest years in sales, Lipitor almost outsold all other pharmaceutical drugs combined, making it the most profitable drug in the history of the world (over $140 billion in sales to date).

In early 2012, after the patent on Lipitor expired, the FDA issued “new” warnings about the dangers of statin drugs, which include liver injury, memory loss, diabetes, and muscle damage. Today, over 1000 lawsuits have been filed since April of this year against the drug company selling Lipitor, for causing diabetes and other side effects of the drug. Attorneys predict the lawsuits could reach over 10,000.

In 2012, U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., proposed an amendment to S. 3187, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. This amendment sought to:

“combat the costly, widespread and inappropriate use of antipsychotics in nursing homes. The overuse of antipsychotics is a common and well-recognized problem that puts frail elders at risk and costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

We need a new policy that helps to ensure that these drugs are being appropriately used to treat people with mental illnesses, not used to curb behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

This amendment responds to alarming reports about the use of antipsychotic drugs with nursing home residents. It’s intended to empower these residents and their loved ones in the decisions about the drugs prescribed for them.

This measure is responsive to mounting evidence that antipsychotics are being misused and overused in the nursing homes we trust to care for our loved ones. The amendment will do what is necessary to curb this deeply concerning practice, putting the power to make key health care decisions back into the appropriate hands and eliminating unnecessary costs to taxpayers.” (Source.)

Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical lobby is the most powerful lobby in the world today, and this amendment was defeated.

Is Alzheimer’s a Prescription-Drug-Induced Disease?

In 2011, Dr. Stephanie Seneff published research looking at the effects of a low-fat diet and statin drugs in relation to Alzheimer’s Disease. This research noticed a strong correlation between insulin resistance in the brain and early Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study’s main conclusions regarding the early causes of Alzheimer’s Disease centered around the transport of cholesterol from the blood stream to the brain. The research stated that there is mounting evidence which suggests that a defect in cholesterol metabolism in the brain may play an important role in Alzheimer’s Disease. A nice summary of the brain’s dependency on cholesterol is given:

The brain represents only 2% of the body’s total mass, but contains 25% of the total cholesterol. Cholesterol is required everywhere in the brain as an antioxidant, an electrical insulator (in order to prevent ion leakage), as a structural scaffold for the neural network, and a functional component of all membranes. Cholesterol is also utilized in the wrapping and synaptic delivery of the neurotransmitters. It also plays an important role in the formation and functioning of synapses in the brain. (Source.)

Several studies show that there is a lack of cholesterol — which is so vital for several functions — in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, and note that other studies show this cholesterol deficiency in dementia and Parkinson’s disease as well. In contrast, high cholesterol levels are positively correlated with longevity in people over 85 years old, and in some cases have been shown to be associated with better memory function and reduced dementia. (Source.)

In 2012, another study looked at the effects of statin cholesterol-lowering drugs on Alzheimer’s patients. The patients in the study had their statin medication stopped for six weeks, and then restarted. The results showed that during the six weeks when their statins were stopped, the basic brain function of the individuals improved. When the drugs were restarted, brain function got worse again. (Source.)

Coconut Oil and Natural Remedies are More Effective and Less Toxic than Drugs for the Elderly

Thousands of people around the world are now turning to coconut oil and other natural remedies to fight Alzheimer’s, and with great success. We have a list of testimonies and articles here.

Sadly, you are not likely to hear about the health benefits of coconut oil from your doctor or healthcare provider, who is only trained in pharmaceutical products. Today’s senior care provider will need to spend time researching the dangers of pharmaceutical drugs and the benefits of natural products outside of the medical system, because no one else is looking out for the interests of the elderly.

See Also:

Virgin Coconut Oil Beats Drugs in Treating Alzheimer’s


Virgin Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s DiseaseVirgin Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease
A Holistic Guide to Geriatric Care – eBook

In this book we look at the problems and causes of Alzheimer’s as they are related to an epidemic of prescription drugs being marketed to seniors, and we look at the strong evidence for dietary intervention, starting with coconut oil.

We bring you the stories of 10 different families who saw Alzheimer’s lessened or reversed by adding coconut oil to their diet, which is representative of thousands of others who are experiencing similar results. We offer guidelines on usage and types of coconut oil to consider, as well as other non-drug tips for holistic geriatric care.

Our target audience is the millions of caregivers out there loving caring for our senior population who will find it difficult to get this information from their doctors or medical professionals not trained in these areas.