Alert! Antacids May Increase Risk of Dementia

WELLNESS--Proton Pump Inhibitors, also knows as antacids are used by an estimated 15 million Americans and they rake in roughly $13 Billion in sales a year. These drugs are commonly used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, and peptic ulcers. While there is any number of PPI’s out there, the most commonly used are omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix), and esomeprazole (Nexium). PPIs help reduce the amount of stomach acid made by glands in the lining of the stomach. 

While there are times this medication is called for, these drugs are often taken casually and as an adjunct to offset a poor diet. Up until recently, side effects of PPI’s have not involved the mind, but in a recent study published in the Journal of American Medicine, an association between Antacids and dementia has arisen. 

The study included 75,000 adults aged 75 and older. In order to qualify to be in the study, the participants needed to be free of dementia, and their use of PPI’s needed to be considered chronic which meant filling a prescription every 3 months for each 18 month period. After an 8-year follow up, the chronic PPI users had a 44% increased risk of dementia compared with those who did not take any medication. Woman had an overall lower risk of dementia than men, and the occasional PPI user had a much lower risk over all. 

It’s important to note that this study does not prove that taking PPI’s causes dementia, but rather that there is an association between long term PPI use and dementia. There may be other factors involved such as people that tend to need PPI’s may have a generally unhealthy diet which could also contribute to dementia. This study did not include what other drugs these elderly people were on, and with more thorough research they may have discovered other links and associations with drugs and dementia. 

It is important to go through all of the medications you are taking at least once a year and talk to your doctor to see if you still need to be on said drugs, or if the dosage could be reduced. Too many people, especially the elderly get used to taking their meds and don’t think to ask their doctors if they can stop or cut back. Of course, never stop taking a medication until you consult your doctor. No one will be more concerned about your health and well being than you, so take responsibility for your health and be your own primary care provider.

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)