A recent study published in the journal Neurology suggests a potential link between long-term use of certain acid reflux medications and an increased risk of developing dementia. The study found that individuals who took proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for more than four-and-a-half years had a higher risk of dementia compared to those who did not take these medications. However, it is important to note that the study does not prove that PPIs directly cause dementia, but rather indicates a potential relationship between the two.
The study included 5,712 participants aged 45 and above, none of whom had dementia at the beginning of the study. Researchers analyzed the medication use of the participants over a median of 5.5 years and found that 26% of them had taken PPIs. The participants were divided into four groups based on the duration of PPI use, ranging from no use to over 4.4 years of use. The study found that those who took PPIs for more than 4.4 years had a 33% higher risk of developing dementia compared to those who did not take the medication.
It is worth mentioning that experts caution against drawing definitive conclusions from this study alone. They point out that because older individuals are more likely to use PPIs, it could simply be a coincidence that they also have a higher risk of dementia. However, for those concerned about the potential risk, there are alternatives to PPIs. H2 antagonists, which reduce acid production in a different way, can be used as an alternative medication. Lifestyle modifications such as avoiding trigger foods, not eating close to bedtime, and avoiding tight belts or waistbands can also help manage excess stomach acid.
Dr. Thanu Jey, Medical Director & Founder at MediBrace, emphasizes that more research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms and confirm the results of this study. He suggests that PPIs may affect nutrient absorption and increase the formation of proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease, but further investigation is required to validate these hypotheses.
In conclusion, while this study suggests a potential association between long-term use of PPIs and an increased risk of dementia, it does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship. It is important for individuals to discuss their concerns and options with healthcare professionals, who can provide personalized advice based on individual circumstances and medical history.