The Facts About Drugs and Memory Loss

drugs and memory lossDo you often forget peoples names? Or forget why you went from one room to another? Or what about what you had for dinner last night? These are all signs of short term memory loss and depending on the circumstance can effect each and everyone of us. Some will even attest that this is normal. But when does it become problematic? When is it no longer normal? And how much of our problem is related to the drugs that we are taking. It’s important that you know the facts about drugs and memory loss so that you can make the right choices for your health.

Causes of Memory Loss

There are a number of factors that can cause memory loss some of which include direct damage to the brain through injury or disease, drug and alcohol use, low levels of vitamin B12, or lifestyle attributors like prolonged stress and not getting enough sleep. Moreover, certain prescription drugs can directly impact memory.

For many years, we assumed that as we aged we would lose nerve cells and thus our memory would deteriorate. However, today we know that this is not accurate. While we are not able to replace nerve cells in the same way that we can other cells in our body there is some replication that can happen.

It turns out, that there are a small number of very specialized cells in mammalian brains called NEURONAL STEM CELLS that can actually replace the dead neurons (it still is not a good idea to damage your cells with drugs or alcohol though!). via Why Nerve Cells Can’t Reproduce?

Drugs and Memory Loss

According to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) there are 10 different categories of “drugs that may cause memory loss”. For our purposes here we will further explore the relationship between statin drugs and memory. However, if you are taking any one of these and experiencing memory loss it is important that you discuss this with your health care practitioner.

1. Antianxiety drugs

2. Cholesterol drugs

3. Antiseizure drugs

4. Antidepressant drugs

5. Narcotic painkillers

6. Parkinson’s drugs

7. Hypertension drugs

8. Sleeping aids

9. Incontinence drugs

10. Antihistamines

via 10 Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss

Statins and Memory Loss

Statins, or more commonly referred to as cholesterol drugs, have recieved a lot of media attention of late due to a suspected connection to this drug and memory loss.

Statins are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world and used by roughly 20 million Americans to reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. via Muscle Aches From Statins? Drug Interactions May Play a Role – Well

How they can cause memory loss: Drugs that lower blood levels of cholesterol may impair memory and other mental processes by depleting brain levels of cholesterol as well. In the brain, these lipids are vital to the formation of connections between nerve cells — the links underlying memory and learning. (The brain, in fact, contains a quarter of the body’s cholesterol.) via 10 Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss

While we know this to be true, there has been a lot of controversy and confusion. But the bigger question really is whether or not this is more related to monetary gain and business rather than medicine. If 20 million people are taking a drug that can affect memory loss imagine what would happen to the manufacturers and distributors if they stopped. That is certainly not to say that this drug does not have its benefits, but there are other questions that need to be considered.

Controversy and Confusion

As with any drug there are always side effects and risks. It is therefore up to the patient and health care practitioner to determine whether or not those risks out weigh the benefits. However, enough concern about this link called the government to action.

Confusion and concern among patients arose last year after stories surfaced about statin takers who said that their mental sharpness declined after starting the drug. Following these reports, the FDA mandated that labeling on statins must include information about possible links between statin use and memory loss. via Statins Don’t Cause Memory Loss, Study Reaffirms — Health Hub …

After the government had ordered this labeling some reputable researchers began reviewing studies to find some type of evidence to substantiate this claim. The researchers at Johns Hopkins University reviewed 12 studies claiming that there was no evidence and even went as far as saying that “long term stain use can have a protective effect on memory and cognition” (The Beating Edge Team, 2013).

As their work involved reviewing studies only, we cannot say for certain that this connection between statin drugs and memory loss does not exist. More empirical research needs to be done.

Final Thoughts About Drugs and Memory Loss

Whether or not you are experiencing memory loss you still need to be aware of the risks of any medications that you are taking. This includes not only prescription drugs, but as well over the counter medications. All drugs have risks and many with significant side effects and interactions. Make sure that you talk to your doctor. And if memory is an issue, then review your medications with your doctor to ensure that this is not the cause.



The Beating Edge Team. (2013). Statins Don’t Cause Memory Loss, Study Reaffirms.


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