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A new study published in Neurology, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology suggests that persons who take proton pump inhibitors for four and a half years or more are at an increased risk of dementia as compared to people who do not take the drug. 

Proton pump inhibitors help lower stomach acid by concentrating on the enzymes in stomach lining making the acid, reported ANI. Persons with persistent acid reflux can develop gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD which could potentially result in oesophagal cancer.

The author of new study, MBBS, PhD, of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology Kamakshi Lakshminarayan while speaking about proton pump inhibitors said, “Proton pump inhibitors are a useful tool to help control acid reflux, however, long-term use has been linked in previous studies to a higher risk of stroke, bone fractures and chronic kidney disease,”

“Still, some people take these drugs regularly, so we examined if they are linked to a higher risk of dementia. While we did not find a link with short-term use, we did find a higher risk of dementia associated with long-term use of these drugs” Lakshminarayan added. 

What did the new study say? 

The study included 5,712 participants who were 45 years old and did not have dementia at the start of the study, with an average age of 75 years. Of these, 1,490 people, or about 26 per cent, had taken the drug before. These participants were then divided into four groups: a) people who had never taken the drug, b) people who had taken the drug for up to 2.8 years, c) people who had taken the drug for 2.8 to 4.4 years, and d) people who had taken it for more than 4.4 years.

Researchers of the study made yearly phone calls and reviewed the participants’ medication during study visits to determine if they were taking acid reflux drugs. 

The researchers found that 415 of the 4,222 participants developed dementia, or about 19 cases per 1,000 person-years. Person-years is linked to the time people spent in the study and the number of people in the study.

Meanwhile,  58 out of 497 people who took the drugs for more than 4.4 years had developed dementia or 24 cases per 1,000 person-years. However, the findings do not suggest a higher risk for people who took the drugs for less than 4.4 years. 

Speaking about the results of the study, Lakshminarayan said that more research is required to confirm their findings and explore reasons for the possible link between long-term proton pump inhibitor usage and higher risk of dementia.

She added, “While there are various ways to treat acid reflux, such as taking antacids, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding late meals and certain foods, different approaches may not work for everyone. It is important that people taking these medications speak with their doctor before making any changes, to discuss the best treatment for them, and because stopping these drugs abruptly may result in worse symptoms.”

(With inputs from ANI)



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Updated: 13 Aug 2023, 02:48 PM IST


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