The use of proton pump inhibitors like Nexium and Prevacid does not increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland indicates. Proton pump inhibitors are a type of antiulcer drug that is commonly used among older persons.
Two earlier studies had reported an increased risk of dementia but the results were not duplicated in the Finnish study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
According to the new study, proton pump inhibitor use was not associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, not even in long-term use exceeding three years. Furthermore, a higher dose did not increase the risk. According to the researchers, people do not need to avoid proton pump inhibitors for fear of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
However, long-term use of proton pump inhibitors should be carefully considered among older persons, as it has been linked with decreased calcium and vitamin B12 absorption and with serious intestinal infections, including Clostridium difficile.
Over one-third of older persons use proton pump inhibitors, a recent study by the same group of Finnish researchers found.
Long-term use was somewhat more common among persons with Alzheimer’s disease than among their counterparts without the disease: 20% of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and 18% of persons without the disease used proton pump inhibitors continuously for over six months. That study was published in European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
The underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not known, but the disease process takes several years before the disease can be diagnosed, making it difficult to identify risk factors, including medications.
Proton pump inhibitor use was compared between Finnish persons with Alzheimer’s disease and their control persons without the disease. The study constitutes part of the nationwide register-based MEDALZ study, which includes all persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in Finland during 2005-2011. The study included 70,718 persons with Alzheimer’s disease and 282,862 control persons, and it is the largest study on the topic so far.