Despite increasing evidence of their harmful effects antipsychotic drugs are often prescribed to elderly people with Alzheimer's disease to control their behaviour. A study of 421 outpatients with Alzheimer's disease by researchers at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles looked into the effects of antipsychotic drugs on people's weight and cholesterol levels. They found that women taking the drugs gained an average of 0.14 lbs per week and the longer they took the drugs the more likely they were to put on weight. The effect on weight was significant for olanzapine and quetiapine but less so for risperidone. Olanzapine was also significantly associated with an increased waist circumference and lowered levels of 'good' cholesterol. Men showed no significant weight gain but the drugs did not improve people's quality of life or function and did not decrease their need for care.
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