In the News: Prilosec and Dementia

omeprazole

A recent study garnered a lot of attention in the popular press about the association between the use of acid suppressants like Prilosec and the risk of dementia. Here’s one such article:

https://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/alzheimer-s-news-20/could-widely-used-heartburn-drugs-raise-dementia-risk-708034.html

The study was observational, however, meaning because of its design the most it can tell us is that there’s a possible association between chronic Prilosec use and dementia. It can’t tell us that drugs like Prilosec cause these problems. Though the relative increase was large (40%) the absolute increase in risk is dependent on the absolute baseline risk, which was only moderate. Further, in observational studies, it’s difficult to control for all variables that could influence the results. For these reasons, I think it’s too early to stop drugs like Prilosec in patients for whom they’re helpful.

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