Stomach-acid PPI meds don't heighten dementia risk, study indicates

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Prevacid and Prilosec, have been linked to greater risks for several other conditions.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are medicines commonly prescribed to treat acid-related digestive problems, including gastroesophageal reflux disease.  Up to one in five older adults said they used a PPI as of 2011, and recent studies have linked PPIs to greater risk of fractures and kidney disease. Some studies also have linked PPIs to an increased risk for dementia among older adults, though several experts have questioned whether these studies correctly measured the connection. 

Research (PDF) published today in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society appears to challenge those earlier findings. Investigators from the University of Washington schools of medicine and pharmacy and Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute reviewed information from the joint UW-Kaiser Permanente Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study,  which included 3,484 subjects 65 and older.  Information from the electronic pharmacy records was used to see how many participants took PPIs, and for how long.

Overall, nearly one in four participants developed dementia, including 670  with possible or probable Alzheimer’s disease.  People with the heaviest use of PPIs – equivalent to five years of daily use at typical doses – did not have a higher risk of developing dementia than those with no PPI use. 

While some other safety concerns with long-term PPI use might be real, results from our study suggest that dementia is not linked to taking a PPI, wrote Shelly Gray, UW professor of pharmacy. She was the study's corresponding author. 

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