Mounting evidence associates antacid relief with increased risk of dementia in seniors.
A new study just released has found an association between heartburn medications and an increased risk of dementia in older people, and it brings to point an interesting conundrum.
The study by German researchers, and cited on webmd.com, found seniors 75 years of age and older, and who regularly take a class of heartburn medications called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), had a 44 percent increase in the risk of dementia, when compared to the same age group that did not use the medications. The authors were quick to point out they only found an association, and not a cause-and-effect link, however.
The interesting part of the new information is previous studies have shown health benefits can be derived from eating spicy foods, including one study that found people who eat spicy foods almost every day have a 14 percent lower risk of death, when compared to those who ate spicy only once per week.
Other benefits ranging from weight loss to healthy heart benefits and fewer ulcers have also been associated with eating spicy foods as well. So that kind of leads physicians in a quandary when advising their patients on health regimens.
Corresponding author on the most recent study, Britta Haenisch, of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn, recommended clinicians should follow the current guidelines for prescribing PPIs to their patients, but avoid over-prescribing until further research can confirm if the drugs actually lead to lower cognitive skills.
However, one of the leading experts on aging, Dr. Malaz Boustani, of the Indiana University Center for Aging Research and a spokesperson for the American Federation for Aging Research, said he planed to share the new information with patients and let them decide for themselves if they are willing to take the risk or not. Dr. Boustani added he has been recommending that patients avoid another type of antacids, H2 blockers, due to earlier studies that associated them with an increased risk of dementia also.
According to the story, over 15 million Americans were using prescription PPIs in 2013, available in popular brands like Prilosec, Prevacid, and Zegerid, as over-the-counter medications. With research that also indicates our taste buds degenerate as we age, seniors may be forced to decide, after eating the spicy foods they enjoy, whether the relief from the often accompanying heartburn that goes with the foods is worth the risk.