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Monday, 29 February 2016

Heartburn (PPI) Drugs and Dementia

Proton pump inhibitors are 'heartburn' drugs that seeks to reduce acid in the stomach. Some PPI brand names are Nexium, Omeprazole, Prevadic, Prilosex, Pantoloc Control, and Zanprol, amongst many others. They are used to treat stomach and duodenum ulcers for short periods, and to remove bacteria called 'pylori' from the stomach to prevent and stomach cancer. But as with all conventional drugs that seek to 'inhibit' specific bodily functions, PPI drug only cause 'side effects' , in this case, an increase in other bacteria, particularly 'clostridium difficile', or 'C.Dif' which can cause serious, and sometime fatal enteritis.

Indeed, PPI drugs inhibit much more, and by interfering with normal body functions, are known cause more serious harm to normal cell functions.  Heartburn drugs have already been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and bone fractures, and, of course, to C.difficile infections. But now they have been implicated in causing dementia.

A study, conducted at the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn, and published in the journal JAMA Neurology, looked at 11 years of insurance data covering 74,000 people over the age of 75. It identified 29,510 patients who developed dementia during the study period, of which 2,950 regularly took PPI drugs. It was calculated that those who took PPIs increased their risk of dementia by 44% compared with those who had not taken the drugs. The researches concluded:

          "The avoidance of PPI medication may contribute to the prevention of dementia." 

Even the mainstream media has picked up on this link, including The Mail, The Express, and The Telegraph. But the study has received a hostile reception from the conventional medical establishment, who have attacked the study in order to protect their reputation. They have pointed out, correctly, that the results provide only a statistical association, and have mostly demanded that more focused trials investigating the link should conducted.

Foremost amongst these critics is the British NHS, in their article "Link between indigestion drugs and dementia 'inconclusive'." The article says that "the Mail's headline sounds scary, but is no cause for alarm. The research behind the story provides no strong reason to stop taking PPIs as prescribed."

So, for the conventional medical establishment, such as association, even with a disease as dreadful as dementia, is insufficient to ensure that prescription of the drug is stopped, pending investigation. Rather, it is assumed that drug is safe (and is given to patients) until such time as it is proven to be harmful or dangerous!
          "This study found people taking PPIs had a 44% higher risk of developing dementia in a seven-year period compared with those not taking the drugs. However, it's not accurate to say this was down to the PPIs – the study couldn't prove this, and there are many possible explanations."

Such is the 'health and safety' rules applying to all pharmaceutical drugs, according to the UKs NHS! First, first the drug has to be proven to be dangerous, by the 'correct' type of study, then once they believe it, theywe will start protecting patients! H&S representatives in any other industry would be overcome with apoploctic rage! And of course neither the British press, or the NHS, mentioned that PPI drugs have been implicated elsewhere!
One study, ‘Acid inhibitors may raise risk of developing dementia’, found that they may lead to confusion, delirium and dementia, and particularly that memory problems were seen in older black people, who were chronic users.

Another study, ‘Risk of dementia in elderly patients with the use of proton pump inhibitors’ assessed the association between the use of PPIs and the risk of dementia in older people. It found that patients receiving PPI drugs had a significantly increased risk of any dementia … and Alzheimer’s disease … compared with non-users. They concluded that

     “Due to the major burden of dementia on public health and the lack of curative medication, this finding is of  high interest to research on dementia and provides indication for dementia prevention”.

Yet another study, ‘Inappropriate prescribing of proton pump inhibitors in older patients: effects of an education strategy’ found that there was frequent prescribing of PPI drugs for older patients that was entirely inappropriate, and “independently associated with co-morbidities and dementia”.

Despite all this, until conventional medicine understands, and then accepts the mechanism linking the drug with reduced cognitive function, it is unlikely that doctors will stop prescribing them. The NHS has said so. Patients have been told, don't worry. All is well! And it is well known that millions of patients are taking these drugs, routinely and regularly, throughout the world. 

And, of course, we also know that there has been an epidemic of dementia in recent decades - an epidemic for which the conventional medical establishment has no explanation!