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5 commonly prescribed drugs with extra health benefits

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
5 drugs with other health benefits that are often overlooked.

Not all drugs are bad for you, despite some claims that the pharmaceutical industry is out to kill us. In fact, some medications have other effects that are very good for us and can help thwart, rather than lead to, other health problems. Here are 5 drugs that have real benefits that you may not have known about.

Blood pressure medication could make your smarter

A new study shows medications for lowering blood pressure can also help make us smarter. The study, published yesterday in the medical journal BMJ Open can help slow memory loss and improve thinking skills.

High blood pressure is bad for brain health because it leads to poor blood flow. The type of blood pressure medication investigated is called ACE inhibitors that are widely prescribed for blood pressure control. The study found patients taking the medications had a 20 to 30 percent lower rate of mental decline compared to those not taking the drugs.

Aspirin not just for the heart

Unless your doctor tells you to avoid aspirin, you may want to consider adding a low dose to your daily health regimen if you are over age 50. Multiple studies show aspirin is good for colon cancer prevention, though the drug is taken by most patients to protect from heart attack and stroke.

But did you also know ASA; another name for aspirin that stands for acetylsalicylic acid can also help treat acne? In this case, you dissolve aspirin enough water to make a paste. Apply it to you blemish to banish skin breakouts (zits, if you will).

Aspirin might also be good for weight loss. A study published last year that was conducted by the University of Dundee and the University of Melbourn showed salicylate in aspirin induced fat burning in obese mice. The finding, published in the journal Science also showed aspirin reduced liver fat that can lead to health problems if left unchecked.

Heart drugs known as beta-blockers

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Beta-blocker drugs have a long history of use for controlling irregular heart rate, helping the heart heal after heart attack and keeping blood pressure lower. Examples of beta-blockers include Inderal, Lopressor, tenormin, carvedilol and more.

If you doctor has prescribed a beta-blocker for you, there are some added benefits, one of which includes possible protection from cancer. For patients undergoing cancer treatment, the drugs could help halt the spread of cancer. Scientists are continuing to study the effects of beta-blockers that seem to do more than protect the cardiovascular system.

Another effect from the heart drugs that is positive is that they keep our sympathetic nervous system that causes increased heart rate, sweating and other symptoms of anxiety in check.

Cholesterol lowering drugs

Anti-cholesterol drugs, known as statins, have some side effects that are widely published. But if your cholesterol level is putting you at high risk for heart attack, your doctor may have prescribed a drug such as Lipitor or Crestor might also help protect from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

A recent study published in the journal Neurology adds evidence that the anti-inflammatory properties of cholesterol lowering drugs. The reason for the protection from the neurological disease was found from lower oxidative stress, according to the study authors.

Diabetes drug that could stop cancer

The anti-diabetic medication metformin is being studied for its role in preventing cancer. The drug might also help slow aging.

Findings published March, 2013 by scientists at University of Montreal in the journal Aging Cell found metformin quells release of inflammatory cytokines that can lead to cell aging and cancer through pathways not previously understood.

It is important to remember that most pharmaceutical drugs are developed from natural products, including antibiotics. Consumers should be wary of marketing efforts that lead patients away from conventional medications by playing on fears of unwanted side effects that can be even worse with unregulated product.

Some drugs prescribed to treat specific health conditions can also improve other areas of health. If you think all drugs that your doctor prescribes are bad for you, consider these 5 common medications that may have added benefits for health that are often overlooked.