Arquivo da tag: Neurologia

The Most Common Pain Relief Drug in The World Induces Risky Behaviour, Study Suggests (Science Alert)

www-sciencealert-com.cdn.ampproject.org

Peter Dockrill

9 September 2020


One of the most consumed drugs in the US – and the most commonly taken analgesic worldwide – could be doing a lot more than simply taking the edge off your headache, new evidence suggests.

Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol and sold widely under the brand names Tylenol and Panadol, also increases risk-taking, according to a new study that measured changes in people’s behaviour when under the influence of the common over-the-counter medication.

“Acetaminophen seems to make people feel less negative emotion when they consider risky activities – they just don’t feel as scared,” says neuroscientist Baldwin Way from The Ohio State University.

“With nearly 25 percent of the population in the US taking acetaminophen each week, reduced risk perceptions and increased risk-taking could have important effects on society.”

The findings add to a recent body of research suggesting that acetaminophen’s effects on pain reduction also extend to various psychological processes, lowering people’s receptivity to hurt feelings, experiencing reduced empathy, and even blunting cognitive functions.

In a similar way, the new research suggests people’s affective ability to perceive and evaluate risks can be impaired when they take acetaminophen. While the effects might be slight, they’re definitely worth noting, given acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in America, found in over 600 different kinds of over-the-counter and prescription medicines.

In a series of experiments involving over 500 university students as participants, Way and his team measured how a single 1,000 mg dose of acetaminophen (the recommended maximum adult single dosage) randomly assigned to participants affected their risk-taking behaviour, compared against placebos randomly given to a control group.

In each of the experiments, participants had to pump up an uninflated balloon on a computer screen, with each single pump earning imaginary money. Their instructions were to earn as much imaginary money as possible by pumping the balloon as much as possible, but to make sure not to pop the balloon, in which case they would lose the money.

The results showed that the students who took acetaminophen engaged in significantly more risk-taking during the exercise, relative to the more cautious and conservative placebo group. On the whole, those on acetaminophen pumped (and burst) their balloons more than the controls.

“If you’re risk-averse, you may pump a few times and then decide to cash out because you don’t want the balloon to burst and lose your money,” Way says.

“But for those who are on acetaminophen, as the balloon gets bigger, we believe they have less anxiety and less negative emotion about how big the balloon is getting and the possibility of it bursting.”

In addition to the balloon simulation, participants also filled out surveys during two of the experiments, rating the level of risk they perceived in various hypothetical scenarios, such as betting a day’s income on a sporting event, bungee jumping off a tall bridge, or driving a car without a seatbelt.

In one of the surveys, acetaminophen consumption did appear to reduce perceived risk compared to the control group, although in another similar survey, the same effect wasn’t observed.

Overall, however, based on an average of results across the various tests, the team concludes that there is a significant relationship between taking acetaminophen and choosing more risk, even if the observed effect can be slight.

That said, they acknowledge the drug’s apparent effects on risk-taking behaviour could also be interpreted via other kinds of psychological processes, such as reduced anxiety, perhaps.

“It may be that as the balloon increases in size, those on placebo feel increasing amounts of anxiety about a potential burst,” the researchers explain.

“When the anxiety becomes too much, they end the trial. Acetaminophen may reduce this anxiety, thus leading to greater risk taking.”

Exploring such psychological alternative explanations for this phenomenon – as well as investigating the biological mechanisms responsible for acetaminophen’s effects on people’s choices in situations like this – should be addressed in future research, the team says.

While they’re at it, scientists no doubt will also have future opportunities to further investigate the role and efficacy of acetaminophen in pain relief more broadly, after studies in recent years found that in many medical scenarios, the drug can be ineffective at pain relief, and sometimes is no better than a placebo, in addition to inviting other kinds of health problems.

Despite the seriousness of those findings, acetaminophen nonetheless remains one of the most used medications in the world, considered an essential medicine by the World Health Organisation, and recommended by the CDC as the primary drug you should probably take to ease symptoms if you think you might have coronavirus.

In light of what we’re finding out about acetaminophen, we might want to rethink some of that advice, Way says.

“Perhaps someone with mild COVID-19 symptoms may not think it is as risky to leave their house and meet with people if they’re taking acetaminophen,” Way says.

“We really need more research on the effects of acetaminophen and other over-the-counter drugs on the choices and risks we take.”

The findings are reported in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Repetitive negative thinking linked to dementia risk (Science Daily)

Date: June 7, 2020

Source: University College London

Summary: Persistently engaging in negative thinking patterns may raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, finds a new UCL-led study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Persistently engaging in negative thinking patterns may raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, finds a new UCL-led study.

In the study of people aged over 55, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, researchers found ‘repetitive negative thinking’ (RNT) is linked to subsequent cognitive decline as well as the deposition of harmful brain proteins linked to Alzheimer’s.

The researchers say RNT should now be further investigated as a potential risk factor for dementia, and psychological tools, such as mindfulness or meditation, should be studied to see if these could reduce dementia risk.

Lead author Dr Natalie Marchant (UCL Psychiatry) said: “Depression and anxiety in mid-life and old age are already known to be risk factors for dementia. Here, we found that certain thinking patterns implicated in depression and anxiety could be an underlying reason why people with those disorders are more likely to develop dementia.

“Taken alongside other studies, which link depression and anxiety with dementia risk, we expect that chronic negative thinking patterns over a long period of time could increase the risk of dementia. We do not think the evidence suggests that short-term setbacks would increase one’s risk of dementia.

“We hope that our findings could be used to develop strategies to lower people’s risk of dementia by helping them to reduce their negative thinking patterns.”

For the Alzheimer’s Society-supported study, the research team from UCL, INSERM and McGill University studied 292 people over the age of 55 who were part of the PREVENT-AD cohort study, and a further 68 people from the IMAP+ cohort.

Over a period of two years, the study participants responded to questions about how they typically think about negative experiences, focusing on RNT patterns like rumination about the past and worry about the future. The participants also completed measures of depression and anxiety symptoms.

Their cognitive function was assessed, measuring memory, attention, spatial cognition, and language. Some (113) of the participants also underwent PET brain scans, measuring deposits of tau and amyloid, two proteins which cause the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, when they build up in the brain.

The researchers found that people who exhibited higher RNT patterns experienced more cognitive decline over a four-year period, and declines in memory (which is among the earlier signs of Alzheimer’s disease), and they were more likely to have amyloid and tau deposits in their brain.

Depression and anxiety were associated with subsequent cognitive decline but not with either amyloid or tau deposition, suggesting that RNT could be the main reason why depression and anxiety contribute to Alzheimer’s disease risk.

“We propose that repetitive negative thinking may be a new risk factor for dementia as it could contribute to dementia in a unique way,” said Dr Marchant.

The researchers suggest that RNT may contribute to Alzheimer’s risk via its impact on indicators of stress such as high blood pressure, as other studies have found that physiological stress can contribute to amyloid and tau deposition.

Co-author Dr Gael Chételat (INSERM and Université de Caen-Normandie) commented: “Our thoughts can have a biological impact on our physical health, which might be positive or negative. Mental training practices such as meditation might help promoting positive- while down-regulating negative-associated mental schemes.

“Looking after your mental health is important, and it should be a major public health priority, as it’s not only important for people’s health and well-being in the short term, but it could also impact your eventual risk of dementia.”

The researchers hope to find out if reducing RNT, possibly through mindfulness training or targeted talk therapy, could in turn reduce the risk of dementia. Dr Marchant and Dr Chételat and other European researchers are currently working on a large project to see if interventions such as meditation may help reduce dementia risk by supporting mental health in old age.

Fiona Carragher, Director of Research and Influencing at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Understanding the factors that can increase the risk of dementia is vital in helping us improve our knowledge of this devastating condition and, where possible, developing prevention strategies. The link shown between repeated negative thinking patterns and both cognitive decline and harmful deposits is interesting although we need further investigation to understand this better. Most of the people in the study were already identified as being at higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, so we would need to see if these results are echoed within the general population and if repeated negative thinking increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease itself.

“During these unstable times, we are hearing from people every day on our Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Connect line who are feeling scared, confused, or struggling with their mental health. So it’s important to point out that this isn’t saying a short-term period of negative thinking will cause Alzheimer’s disease. Mental health could be a vital cog in the prevention and treatment of dementia; more research will tell us to what extent.”


Story Source:

Materials provided by University College London. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Natalie L. Marchant, Lise R. Lovland, Rebecca Jones, Alexa Pichet Binette, Julie Gonneaud, Eider M. Arenaza-Urquijo, Gael Chételat, Sylvia Villeneuve. Repetitive negative thinking is associated with amyloid, tau, and cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/alz.12116