Proton Pump Inhibitors May Not Increase Alzheimer's Disease Risk

While proton pump inhibitors are commonly used among older patients, it may not increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are prescription and over-the-counter drugs commonly used to reduce gastric acid for conditions such as peptic ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Numerous studies have looked into the potential short- and long-term health effects of these drugs.

Two previous studies suggest that the use of PPIs may be linked to an increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but findings from a new study published by the American Journal of Gastroenterology challenge that hypothesis.

The authors compared PPI use between 70,718 patients with Alzheimer's disease and 282,862 control patients without the condition. The analysis is part of the MEDALZ study, which includes all patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in Finland between 2005 and 2011. This is the largest study regarding this topic, according to the authors.

The authors found that PPI use did not increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. These results remained true even when patients used the drugs for more than 3 years.

The authors state that patients should not forgo treatment with PPIs due to concerns about Alzheimer’s disease; however, older patients should use the drugs with caution, as it has been associated with decreased calcium and vitamin B12 absorption, and Clostridium difficile infections, according to the study.

PPI use is common among older patients, including those with Alzheimer’s disease. The authors previously found that more than one-third of older patients use the drugs, with long-term use more prevalent among those with Alzheimer’s disease.

While the underlying cause of Alzheimer's disease is still unknown, the condition develops over several years before initial diagnosis. For this reason, researchers have been searching for modifiable risk factors to prevent or delay the condition.

According to the current study, proton pump inhibitor use is not a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.