Certain prostate drugs may be linked to reduced risk of dementia with Lewy bodies, study finds.


By Aoife Cosgrave | Thursday 20 June 2024

A large, US based study published in Neurology, has shown that drugs used to treat urinary symptoms due to an enlarged prostate, could potentially lower the risk of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) in men.

Over 600,000 people were included in this observational study. Researchers examined their health records to see if people taking drugs to treat urinary symptoms went on to develop DLB over the next 3 years.

People taking α-1 blockers – a drug for urinary symptoms – were around 40% less likely to develop DLB than people taking other prostate drugs.

Interestingly, these finding are in line with another study suggesting a link between these drugs and a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, which has similar to features to DLB.

Dr Jacob E. Simmering, the study’s lead author  from the University of Iowa, said: “If we can determine that an existing drug can offer protection against this debilitating disease, that has the potential to greatly reduce its effects.”

Commenting on the findings, Dr Julia Dudley, Head of Research Strategy at Alzheimer’s Research UK explained the need to investigate drugs which are used to treat other diseases. “It’s encouraging to see large studies exploring whether drugs already licensed for other medical conditions could have a protective effect for the diseases that cause dementia. As these drugs have already been shown to be safe for use in people, this could potentially speed up the process of testing in clinical trials”.

What this study does not prove, however, is that the α -1 blockers reduce the risk of dementia with Lewy bodies – they only show a link. Dr Dudley explains further: “The study only looked at whether people developed DLB or not, and future trials would be needed to confirm a causal link between the drug and progression of the disease. The study also only included male participants, despite females using the same drugs to treat urinary symptoms, highlighting the need for future research to include wider groups of people.”

There are at least 100,000 people in the UK living with DLB yet despite this there are no drugs available which can stop or even slow the progression of the disease. Alzheimer’s Research UK is supporting research looking for new treatments and better ways to diagnose DLB so that we can continue our progress towards a cure for all forms of dementia.


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Aoife Cosgrave