5-speed listening (Level 5)

Over-the-counter medicine may shrink brain






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Over-the-counter (OTC) medicine is part of our lives. Many of us go to pharmacies for cold and headache tablets, cough syrups or allergy treatments. OTC drugs save the need to go to the doctor's. However, OTC drugs may cause more harm than good. A new study published in a medical journal suggests that many of these medicines have unwanted and serious side effects. Side effects in older adults who take OTC medicines for asthma, aches and pains, insomnia and allergies, etc. include cognitive damage, dementia and even brain shrinkage.

The study was done by Indiana University. Researchers looked at the link between OTC drugs and cognition in older people who did not have dementia. The scientists found that OTC drugs led to a lower glucose metabolism, which means the brain isn't as healthy. A researcher said the findings provide a better understanding of how OTC drugs can affect the brain, "in ways that might raise the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia". She added: "I certainly wouldn't advise my grandparents or even my parents to take these medications unless they have to."

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