Anesthesia doubles dementia risk

Surgery is always risky. No matter how you slice it (or how it slices you). And according to a new study, it’s not just the surgery itself you should worry about. The anesthesia poses its own set of risks too. In fact, new evidence shows that receiving general anesthesia may significantly increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

I often report on AD. It’s one of this country’s most neglected ailments. And despite ever-growing numbers afflicted with the disease, mainstream medicine still can’t tell us how to prevent it. Much less how to treat it.

Plus, research funding for AD is woefully lacking. Especially compared to politically correct diseases, such as AIDS and breast cancer.

Just think about it.

We know exactly how to totally prevent AIDS. And there are many good ways to help prevent and treat breast cancer.

But what about AD?

The statistics and lack of solutions for AD are ultimately far more worrisome.

Thankfully, the science is beginning to emerge. And this is always the first step in raising awareness.

More and more studies reveal very clear factors that increase your risk of developing AD. Especially when it comes to early-onset dementia. In fact, a new study found nine clear-cut risk factors that increase your risk of getting this devastating dementia at an early age. And I will tell you about those on Thursday.

But, among older individuals, anesthesia is the newly discovered hazard.

In my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, I describe how gastroenterologists overuse general anesthesia during “routine” colonoscopies. This adds even more risk to this “routine” procedure. We know that local anesthesia works just as well for this procedure. Plus, it’s safer and less expensive.

Now, this new study conducted in Taiwan gives you even more cause to skip the anesthesia–whenever possible!

For this study, researchers followed more than 20,000 patients ages 50 years and older between 1995 and 2010. They discovered that 2.65 percent of patients who received anesthesia during surgery went on to develop AD. By comparison, only 1.39 percent of patients not given anesthesia developed AD.

Now, both of those percentages may seem low to you.

But let’s look a little closer.

It means that twice as many patients who received anesthesia developed AD compared to those who didn’t. This is a clear red flag. In addition, researchers noticed that patients began to show signs of dementia soon after having gone under anesthesia.

Why does anesthesia appear to increase AD risk?

Although most experts still consider anesthesia safe, new evidence suggests that it may cause neurodegenerative complications.

In fact, both laboratory studies and imaging studies show that inhaled anesthetic agents promote amyloid beta-peptide in patients. This “brain sludge” usually goes away after a few days. But in AD patients, it builds up and never goes away.

Experts already acknowledge anesthesia’s short-term toxicities. These result in post-operative confusion. And a decline in mental function. These deficits can last a few days to a few weeks.

But when patients experienced permanent cognitive decline following anesthesia, most doctors attributed it to something else. Now we know, the anesthesia may have actually caused it.

Of course, many herbal remedies can help support brain function, as I’ve often reported.

Yet ironically, doctors usually tell patients to stop taking vitamins and herbal remedies before having surgery. They say certain herbs can interact with the anesthesia. And the most common reaction is an increase in bleeding.

But in reality, this reaction occurs very rarely.

Of course, when such an interaction does occur, mainstream medicine blames the relatively gentle herb. Instead of the potent drug or anesthesia.

What does this all mean for you?

Local anesthesia is a far better choice for many medical procedures, such as colonoscopy.

If you need to have minor surgery or a medical procedure, ask your doctor about using local anesthesia. Better yet, find out whether the surgery is really necessary in the first place. Are there safer alternatives? It will save everyone a lot of money. And it very well may save you a few brain cells along the way.