Things may be looking up for men worried about their Alzheimer’s disease risk.

A new five-year study of around 260,000 older adult men found that those taking medications to treat erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra, were 18% less likely to develop the neurodegenerative disease, which impairs memory, thinking and behavior.

“Erectile dysfunction drugs, which work by dilating blood vessels to allow more blood to flow through, were first developed to treat high blood pressure,” researchers from University College London, who carried out the study, wrote in a press release.

“A new study suggests that the drugs may be tied to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” the authors continued. 

The study, published in the journal Neurology, found that the men who took the most Viagra-like drugs had the smallest risk of developing the brain disorder. 

Men who received 21 to 50 prescriptions of sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, throughout the study had a 44 % lower risk of developing dementia. 

The authors said that more research needs to be done to determine whether Viagra lowers risk, or if men choosing to take Viagra already had a lower risk. 

“We can’t say that the drugs are responsible, but this does give us food for thought on how we move into the future,” lead study author Dr. Ruth Brauer at University College London told The Guardian. 

“We now need a proper clinical trial to look at the effects of these drugs on Alzheimer’s in women as well as men,” she added.

Around 6.7 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. 

Other factors can affect the rate of Alzheimer’s disease including age, alcohol consumption and smoking, the authors said in the press release. 

Previous studies have linked the use of Viagra to a lower risk of developing the disease. 

A study published last May by researchers from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York found that Viagra could slash the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 60%.

Scientists said that Viagra blocks an enzyme found in the brain of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The study of over 27,000 people over 65, found that Viagra suppresses a brain protein called PDE5. In Alzheimer’s patients,  PDE5 is “significantly increased” in the part of the brain that manages memory.

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