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Acid Reflux Drugs and Dementia Risk: Here’s What You Need to Know


If you have heartburn or acid reflux, you might swear by the quick relief you get from your antacid. But if you’re taking a particular class of heartburn drugs, you may be doing more harm than good.

Specifically, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are the most commonly prescribed class of antacids here in the U.S. And they do a great job of lowering stomach acidity.

However, people who take them on a regular basis may find themselves experiencing health concerns that are much more serious digestive complaints.

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Is Your Antacid Making You Sick?

For starters, this class of drugs greatly increases the chance of acquiring Clostridium difficile. This is a life threatening bacterial disease that causes pain, cramping, intense diarrhea and swelling of the colon.

If that’s not bad enough, a recent study in PLOS ONE shows that they raise the chance of a heart attack by 16 to 21 percent. Another study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reveals that PPIs increase the risk of chronic kidney disease by 20 to 50 percent.

Now we’re learning that they may also have a significant effect on the odds of developing dementia.

Proton Pump Inhibitors Linked to Dementia

This newer information comes from an analysis on over 73,000 Germans with an age of 75 or older. All of them were dementia free at the start of the study.

After analyzing data collected over seven years, the research team found that those who regularly took a PPI had a 44 percent greater risk of developing dementia compared to the people who didn’t take one.

One explanation the study authors give is that PPIs are able to cross the blood-brain barrier. This means they’re able to have a direct effect on the brain. For example, these drugs can raise brain levels of beta amyloid. This protein is often referred to as a “hallmark” of Alzheimer’s disease.

The authors also note that PPIs prevent the body from absorbing vitamin B12. Low levels of B12 often result in cognitive decline and neurological damage.

Some of today’s most popular PPIs include Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and Zegerid. Many of these are available without a prescription, but that doesn’t make them any safer than their prescription counterparts.


Shah NH, et al. Proton Pump Inhibitor Usage and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction in the General Population. PLoS One. 2015 Jun 10;10(6):e0124653.

Lazarus B, et al. Proton Pump Inhibitor Use and the Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease. JAMA Intern Med. 2016 Feb;176(2):238-46.

Gomm W, et al. Association of Proton Pump Inhibitors With Risk of Dementia: A Pharmacoepidemiological Claims Data Analysis. JAMA Neurol. 2016 Apr;73(4):410-6.

Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”

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