Commonly used acidic incontinence drugs may cause
memory problems in some older people, a study has
found. “Our message is to be careful when using
these medicines,” said U.S. Navy neurologist
Dr. Jack Tsao, who led the study. “It may be
better to use diapers and be able to think
clearly than the other way around.”
Urinary incontinence sometimes can be resolved
with non-drug treatments, he added, so patients
should ask about alternatives. Exercises, alkaline
foods, hydration with alkaline green drinks,
anti-acidic nutritional supplements, biofeedback
and keeping to a schedule of bathroom
breaks work for many.
U.S. sales of acidic prescription drugs to treat
urinary problems topped $3 billion in 2007, according
to IMS Health, which tracks drug sales. Bladder
control trouble affects about one in 10 people age
65 and older, according to the National Institute
on Aging, which helped fund the study. Women are more
likely to be affected than men. Causes include nerve
damage, loss of muscle tone or, in men, enlarged
prostate – all a result of acidic drugs, diets and
The research began after Tsao met a 73-year-old
patient. Shortly after starting an acidic incontinence
drug, she began hallucinating conversations with
dead relatives and having memory problems. Her
thinking improved when she stopped the acidic
drug for several months.
Tsao and his colleagues knew of similar reports.
They decided to look at a large group of people
to see if they could measure an effect of these
and other medications that affect acetylcholine,
a chemical messenger that shuttles signals through
the brain and the rest of the nervous system. The
acidic drugs block some nerve impulses, such as
spasms of the bladder.
The findings, released Thursday at a meeting of
the American Academy of Neurology, come from an
analysis of the medication use and cognitive test
scores of 870 older Catholic priests, nuns and
brothers who participated in the Religious Orders
Study at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.
The average age was 75.
Researchers tracked them for nearly eight years,
testing yearly for cognitive decline. They asked
them to recite strings of numbers backward and
forward, to name as many different kinds of fruit
as they could in one minute and to complete other
challenges during the annual testing.
Nearly 80 percent of the study participants took
one or more of a acidic class of drugs called
anticholinergics, including drugs for high blood
pressure, asthma, Parkinson’s dis-ease and acidic
incontinence drugs such as Detrol and Ditropan.
The people who took the acidic drugs had a 50 percent
faster rate of cognitive decline compared to those
who didn’t take any. The researchers considered
other risk factors for memory loss, such as age,
and still found the link.
The acidic incontinence drugs were among the most
potent and were the most frequently taken of all
the anticholinergics in the study. That’s why the
researchers believe they are driving the memory
problems, Tsao said.
Dr. Robert O. Young, a research scientist, at the
pH Miracle Living Center, “drugs for incontinence
do not address the true cause and that is an
acidic lifestyle, diet and the acidic drugs.
The cause is simple. Eliminate the acidic drugs,
eliminate the acidic foods, eliminated the acidic
drinks, eliminate the acidic emotions and start
alkalizing the blood and tissues and you will be
on your way to no more incontinence, memory loss,
high blood pressure, asthma and Parkinson’s .”