Here we go again. I was hoping we could all ignore the latest erroneous news related to the proton pump inhibitors – in this case, linking them to dementia – but it looks like this one is not going away. And many people taking these medications are understandably concerned. So let’s address it (briefly) head on.

We’ll file this with the other recent studies linking the PPIs with heart disease and kidney disease. I already delved into why these should be ignored, so I’ll try to avoid being overly repetitious.

Basically, disregard what you've heard about the proton pump inhibitors causing dementia. The news reports are based on a study that, once again, succeeded in proving absolutely nothing. The authors of the study examined a German insurance database containing medication and diagnostic codes, looking for an association between PPI use and dementia. This is data mining. It's poor research and poor science. Once again, there were numerous confounding factors that could lead to this supposed association. And a study of this nature can never prove cause and effect.

So why do news outlets pick up these stories? Because they generate press. Millions of people have used, or are using, PPIs. It's guaranteed to interest (and alarm). But that doesn't mean it's valid.

So please ignore these reports. I'll insert the obligatory statement that you should never take a medication if you don't need it, which is true, but if you need to take a PPI, you can safely do so.

Want to read more? Here's a link to the American College of Gastroenterology's response to the PPI/dementia issue.

Christopher McGowan, MD, MSCR