Popular medication could increase your risk of dementia by 33%

What is dementia?

Dementia describes a cluster of symptoms associated with ongoing cognitive decline. 

Worryingly, what you put into your body could make you more likely to develop the mind-robbing condition. 

New research, published in the journal Neurology, suggests that long-term use of a type of acid reflux medication could hike your risk of dementia by 33 percent.

The research team found that people who took proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, for four-and-a-half years or more were more likely to develop the debilitating condition.

The medication is used to target acid reflux which occurs when stomach acid flows into the oesophagus, usually after eating or when lying down.

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PPIs reduce this acid by targeting the enzymes in the stomach lining that produce it.

While the drug can be helpful to those suffering from acid reflux, the medication has been previously linked to a whole host of problems.

Study author Professor Kamakshi Lakshminarayan 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.”

The research team looked at more than 5,700 people, aged 45 and older, who did not have dementia at the start of the study. 

By reviewing their medications during study visits and during yearly phone calls, the scientists determined 1,490 took acid reflux drugs.

The participants were then divided into four groups based on whether they had taken the drugs and for how long.

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Out of the 497 people who took the drugs for more than 4.4 years, 58 people developed dementia.

After adjusting for factors such as age, sex, race, as well as health-related issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes, the researchers calculated that people who had been taking acid reflux drugs for more than 4.4 years had a 33 percent higher risk of the mind-robbing condition.

However, the research team didn’t find a higher risk of dementia for people who took the drugs for fewer than 4.4 years.

The scientists also added that the study does not prove that acid reflux drugs cause dementia; it merely shows an association.

Prof Lakshminarayan, of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said: “More research is needed to confirm our findings and explore reasons for the possible link between long-term proton pump inhibitor use and a higher risk of dementia.

“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.”

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