Will Long-Term Use Of Acid Reflux Drugs Increase Dementia Risk?

According to a new study, prolonged use of acid reflux medications known as proton pump inhibitors could boost the risk of dementia. This article examines the truth behind this claim and how to safeguard your health.

What Were The Findings?

Previous studies gave conflicting advice on the possibilities of medicines being linked to dementia. In this latest research published in the journal Neurology, it was discovered that taking a proton pump inhibitor did not necessarily increase risk. The critical requirement was how long a person took one of the medicines.

The risk showed up after individuals used the drugs for more than 4 years. Individuals who used proton pump inhibitors for that duration or longer had a 33% increased risk of developing dementia.

How Do Proton Pump Inhibitors Work?

Proton pump inhibitors include lansoprazole, esomeprazole, and omeprazole. Other popular brand names for these medicines are Prevacid, Nexium, and Prilosec. They operate by reducing stomach acid in individuals whose stomach acid flows in the esophagus, usually when lying down or after a meal.

This condition is known as acid reflux and can produce ulcers, heartburn, or a more severe reflux disorder that is linked to cancer of the esophagus.

How Was The Study Conducted?

For the study, researchers analyzed data for 5,712 individuals aged 45 years and older who did not suffer from dementia at the beginning of the study. The amount of time people were monitored during the study varied but centered around 5 years and 6 months.

Of the 4,222 individuals in the study who did not take the acid reflux drugs, 415 got dementia during the follow-up period. Among the 497 individuals who took the drugs for more than 4.4 years, 58 developed dementia.


Experiencing acid reflux once in a while is common. According to a 2019 study, an estimated 60 million individuals in the United States experience the condition once a month or more.

However, study author Kamakshi Lakshminarayan said more research is required to confirm the findings and explore reasons for the possible connection between long-term proton pump inhibitor use and an increased risk of dementia.

While there are multiple ways to treat acid reflux, like maintaining a healthy weight or avoiding late meals, different approaches might not work for everyone. It is also essential that individuals taking these medications consult their doctor before making any changes.