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Stomach acid drugs do not increase Alzheimer's risk, study confirms

Published on 07/08/17 at 10:32am

A new study from the University of Eastern Finland has indicated that the use of proton pump inhibitors such as lansoprazole and omeprazole do not increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, contrary to claims made by two Germany studies which linked the drug class to greater threat of dementia.

Proton pump inhibitors are a class of drugs which act on the cells lining the stomach wall to reduce the production of acid; they are typically used to treat acid reflux and ulcers. They are frequently utilised by older patients, and more than a third of this group currently use the drugs.

The study found no link between the use of proton pump inhibitors and the development of Alzheimer’s, even when the dosage as increased or in long-term use exceeding three years. The drug class is heavily used by Alzheimer’s disease patients, particularly long-term – with 20% of those with the disease and 18% of those without using the drugs – though this looks to be a case of correlation rather than causation.

The study was part of the nationwide register-based Medalz study, including all 70,718 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in Finland between 2005 and 2011 – the largest study in the disease area conducted so far.

Despite these reassuring findings, it is known that use of the drugs has been connected to decreased calcium and vitamin B12 absorption, as well as intestinal infections such as clostridium difficile, meaning use in older patients must be carefully considered.

Matt Fellows

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