Drugs prescribed to millions of Brits ‘can pose a threat to your brain’ | The Sun

DRUGS that are prescribed to millions of Brits could pose a risk to the health of your brain in later life, experts have warned.

Anti-anxiety medication is used for people who are struggling with overwhelming feelings and can also be used for those have issues with sleep.

Earlier this year it was found that the number of people in the UK using drugs to combat anxiety had soared.

The use of such medication has been rising steadily in recent years and now a new study has found that the pills can impact the brain's microglial cells.

Experts at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANTSO) said the use of them could interfere with the dendritic spines.

The dendritic spines play a key part in the brain's neurons and contribute to the part of the brain that electrifies and activates cells.

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Professor at ANTSO, Richard Banati said the study is important as it shows that long term usage of anxiety medication can contribute to an acceleration of dementia.

He added that how this occurs, is not yet known.

In the paper, he details that the brain has millions of neurons which help transmit information.

Prof Banati said the majority of research is focused in this area, so said their team instead looked at the microglial cells.

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"These are small and highly mobile cells that are part of the non-neuronal matrix in which nerve cells are embedded.

"This matrix makes up a substantial part of the brain and is actually directly influencing the functioning of neural networks," he told Neurosciencenews.

However, it's key to note that the study was conducted on mice, and may not have the same effect in human trials.

Medics tested diazepam and realised it did not go directly to the synapses and instead went to the microglia.

Diazepam – better known as Valium – is used to treat anxiety, alcohol withdrawal and seizures.

It also relieves muscle spasms and to provide sedation before medical procedures as it has a calming effect on the body.

In the study, the drug changed to normal activity of microglial cells and the function they have.

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They highlighted that this could mean those who take the medication may suffer from severe fatigue and later on could be plagued by other cognitive issues such as dementia.

the research is still in early stages but experts compared the effect of the drugs to damaging the wiring of the brain.

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