A recent study published in the JAMA Neurology journal found that a group of heartburn drugs including Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid, could be linked to an increased risk of dementia in users over the age of 75.
The German researchers that conducted the study concluded that proton pump inhibitors, which lower the amount of acid in the stomach, increased the risk of dementia in users by 44 percent.
The researchers compared those regularly taking the drugs against a control group, but were not able to find a cause-and-effect link, only an association.
“To evaluate cause-and-effect relationships between long-term PPI use and possible effects on cognition in the elderly, randomized, prospective clinical trials are needed,” said Britta Haenisch, author of the report.
While more research is done, “Clinicians should follow guidelines for PPI prescription, to avoid overprescribing PPIs and inappropriate use,” she said.
PPIs are a widely used group of antacid drugs that are available both over the counter and as prescribed in the United States. However, overuse of the drugs can drastically affect health, according to a report in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, which links over-usage to a 20 to 50 percent higher risk of kidney disease.
In the most recent study, published Feb. 15, over 7 years of diagnoses and drug prescription data for nearly 74,000 patients was collected from a German health insurance firm.
Experts agree that more research is needed, and that patients using PPIs should consult their doctor to understand the risks associated with their usage.