protein pump inhibitors for ulcers increase risk of Alzheimer's disease

One of the most popular drugs out there could be doing something to you you never imagined while you take it to fix your ulcer.

Protein pump inhibitors (PPIs) include popular drugs like Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid that are prescribed by doctors every day to treat conditions like ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux syndrome, heartburn and indigestion.

But these acid blockers are not as innocent as they seem, as an important study of 73,679 people has just revealed. None of the people in the study had dementia when the study started. But, by the time the study was over, the ones who took PPIs had a 44% increased risk of dementia compared to the ones who weren’t taking them (JAMA Neurol 2016;73(4):410-416).

This study is scary enough that you’d think you would have heard of it. But, it is not even the first study to arrive at this scary conclusion. A year earlier, researchers had already sounded the Alzheimer’s alarm.

Since PPIs increase amyloid-beta and decrease vitamin B12, and since both of these effects can harm cognition and contribute to Alzheimer’s (AD), these researchers tested the then hypothesis that PPIs might have a harmful effect on cognition.

And, they did. Sixty people were divided into six different groups. The lucky ones got a placebo; the unlucky ones got one of five PPIs. No matter which PPI the people got, the result was the same: statistically and clinically significant impairment in visual memory, attention, executive function, and working and planning function. The most harmful PPI was the drug omeprazole. The researchers came to the startling conclusion that PPIs “have associations with AD” (Alzheimers Res Ther 2015;7:79).

But, before you reach for a different kind of ulcer drug, consider this: other classes of ulcer drugs have the same problem. More than ten years ago, researchers had already shown that continuous use of  the histamine-2 receptor antagonists, like Pepcid, Zantac and Tagamet, increases the risk of cognitive impairment by an incredible 242% (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2007;551248-53).

So, instead of drugs for ulcers, if you’re using your brain—and you want to go on using your brain—you may want to reach for some natural solutions. Some of them, like a special form of licorice called DGL, have been proven in head-to-head studies to work better than the drugs anyway.


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For much more on treating and preventing ulcers, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

For comprehensive help with ulcers, make an appointment to see Linda Woolven now.


The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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