Widely used heartburn drugs called proton pump inhibitors do not appear to increase Alzheimer's disease risk, according to a new study.
Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid are commonly used proton pump inhibitors.
Two previous studies reported a higher risk of dementia among people who took the drugs, which are commonly used by older adults. Proton pump inhibitors work by reducing the production of stomach acid.
But this new study found that use of the drugs was not associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's, even among those who took a higher dose or used the drugs for more than three years.
The findings are from an analysis of data from Finland on nearly 71,000 Alzheimer's disease patients and nearly 283,000 people without the disease.
The study shows people need not avoid the drugs due to fears about developing Alzheimer's, said the University of Eastern Finland researchers led by Heidi Taipale, a postdoctoral researcher.
But long-term use should be carefully considered, because it has been linked with decreased calcium and vitamin B12 absorption and with serious intestinal infections, the study authors said in a university news release.
The researchers said more than one-third of older persons use proton pump inhibitors.
The study was published recently in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on proton pump inhibitors.
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