What they WON'T tell you about PPIs

Heartburn drugs DON'T cause dementia? Don't bet your brain on it!

A headline-making new study claims the proton pump inhibitors given for heartburn and reflux are not only safe, but can actually PROTECT the brain from dementia in older patients.

But don't start popping those pills just yet.

This study sounded a little fishy to me, since there's plenty of research that shows just the opposite. A pretty solid study published last year found PPI drugs can raise the risk of dementia by as much as 52 percent.

So, I dug into the details of this one, and I found a couple of little tricks they pulled to make these drugs look much safer than they REALLY are.

First, the study's larger group included folks aged 50 and over, and people at the younger end of that range are unlikely to get dementia to begin with -- especially since they were only tracked for between two and six years.

Someone aged 50 is not very likely to develop cognitive impairment by the age of 56, no matter what medications he takes.

But the researchers were probably prepared for that, so they isolated a group of patients aged 75 and older from that larger group. And in those folks, taking the drugs either intermittently or regularly actually cut the risk of cognitive decline.

Sounds like a win for the meds, right?

Not so fast!

In order to be put into that subgroup, the folks had to a) use PPIs and b) have no sign of dementia at the age of 75.

In other words, anyone who may have already gotten dementia before the age of 75 -- whether from the drugs or not -- was DISQUALIFIED from this part of the study!

All this really proves is that if you take PPIs and make it to the age of 75 without dementia, then you probably won't develop the disease over the next two to six years.

I wouldn't exactly call that reassuring.

Besides, dementia is just one of the many risks linked to PPI use -- and it's not even the biggest one.

These drugs alter digestion so drastically that your body can no longer get all of the nutrients it needs from your food, in some cases leading to severe deficiencies. The FDA has even warned that PPI users are at risk of a magnesium deficiency so bad it could lead to seizures and heart problems.

There are far safer ways to battle reflux, including supplements containing a full-spectrum blend of enzymes to help improve digestion and stop the acid from bubbling up. In addition, I suggest complete testing for undiagnosed food sensitivities, which can cause or worsen reflux.

Work closely with a holistic medical doctor.

For complete testing and treatment in the San Diego area, make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not in the area? I'm also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

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