Antiulcer drugs do not increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease

The use of proton pump inhibitors does not increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, shows a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland. Proton pump inhibitors are a type of antiulcer drug that is commonly used among older persons.

The association between proton pump inhibitors and Alzheimer’s disease was studied at the University of Eastern Finland, as two previous studies from Germany reported an increased risk of dementia. However, these findings were not confirmed by the extensive Finnish study, at least not for the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia. The results were published in 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 in 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 ( Clostridium difficile ).

Over one third of older persons use proton pump inhibitors

The use of proton pump inhibitors is very common among persons with Alzheimer’s disease and among their peers of the same age. Another recent study from the research group showed that over one third of older persons use proton pump inhibitors. 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. The 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. For this reason, risk factors such as medications that can be modified or avoided, are searched for. According to the current study, proton pump inhibitor use is not one of these modifiable risk factors.

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. 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.

For further information, please contact:

Heidi Taipale, Senior Researcher, School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, heidi.taipale(at)uef.fi

Sirpa Hartikainen, Professor, School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, sirpa.hartikainen(at)uef.fi

Research article on proton pump inhibitors and risk of Alzheimer’s disease:

Taipale H, Tolppanen AM, Tiihonen M, Tanskanen A, Tiihonen J, Hartikainen S. No association between proton pump inhibitor use and risk of Alzheimer’s disease. American Journal of Gastroenterology, published online July 11, 2017.

Research article on long-term use of proton pump inhibitors:

Juntunen H, Taipale H, Tanskanen A, Tolppanen AM, Tiihonen J, Hartikainen S, Tiihonen M. Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors among community-dwelling persons with and without Alzheimer’s disease. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, published online June 2, 2017.

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The University of Eastern Finland, UEF, is one of the largest universities in Finland. The activities of the UEF underscore multidisciplinarity, and the university is especially strong in research related to forests and the environment, health and well-being, and new technologies and materials. The UEF offers teaching in more than 100 major subjects. In addition to the high standard of teaching, the university offers its students a modern study environment, which is under constant development. The university comprises four faculties: the Philosophical Faculty, the Faculty of Science and Forestry, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. The university’s campuses are located in the heart of beautiful eastern Finland in Joensuu, Kuopio and Savonlinna. The UEF is home to approximately 15 000 students and nearly 2 800 members of staff.

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