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A study has suggested a link between taking particular indigestion drugs and dementia, but many claim the connection is inconclusive.

A recent study published in the scientific journal JAMA Neurology claimed this week that taking a type of prescription drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) could increase your risk of developing dementia by 44 per cent.

These drugs are used to treat severe heartburn, acid reflux and peptic ulcers and include Pantoprazole and ‎Lansoprazole.

In the study, which was based on the insurance data of 74,000 German people aged over 75 from 2004 to 2011, researchers identified 29,510 patients who developed dementia during the study period.

Among the 2,950 of the total who regularly took PPIs, a greater proportion had dementia, giving them a 44 per cent increased risk compared with those who had not taken PPIs.

However, the research has been met with many questions about the true link, and the scientists carrying out the research have admitted the study can only provide ‘a statistical association between PPI use and risk of dementia’.

This basically means that the study can’t categorically prove that PPI drugs will lead to dementia, and in fact, the link could be down to other factors.

The two groups of people in the study weren’t very similar. Those taking PPIs had poorer health, and were more likely to be taking a greater number of medicines and have conditions linked to a higher risk of dementia.

Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK said: ‘This study doesn’t tell us definitively that the drugs directly cause the condition. The next step will be to investigate the possible reasons for this link.’

Until then, the general advice if you take PPI drugs but are worried about a dementia risk is to continue taking them – you should never stop taking prescription medication without the full guidance of your doctor. The link with dementia is uncertain, and is likely to be outweighed by the benefit of protecting the stomach against ulceration, bleeding and irritation.

However, you can make lifestyle changes to decrease your risk if you’re worried, including;

– Eating a healthy diet
– Maintaining a healthy weight
– Exercising regularly
– Moderating your alcohol consumption
– Stopping smoking
– Keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level