Acid reflux drugs may harm memory function in people with breast cancer

In a new study, researchers found that acid reflux drugs recommended to ease stomach problems during cancer treatment may have a harmful side effect: impairment of breast cancer survivors’ memory and concentration.

They found a link between breast cancer survivors’ use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and reports of problems with concentration and memory.

On average, cognitive problems reported by PPI users were between 20 and 29 percent more severe than issues reported by non-PPI users.

PPIs are sold under such brand names as Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec.

The research was conducted by a team at Ohio State University.

The study is the first to look at PPI use in breast cancer survivors. It used data from three previous Ohio State clinical trials examining fatigue, a yoga intervention and vaccine response in breast cancer patients and survivors.

In each of those studies, participants had reported their use of prescribed and over-the-counter medications and rated any cognitive symptoms they had as part of routine data collection.

The researchers found that PPI use predicted more severe concentration and memory symptoms as well as lower quality of life related to impaired cognition.

The severity of the cognitive problems reported by PPI users in this study was comparable to what patients undergoing chemotherapy had reported in a large observational study.

The team says there could be a cognitive effect from taking PPIs, particularly in this population, because breast cancer survivors are already at risk for cognitive decline.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved PPIs for short-term use to treat common gastric acid conditions and longer-term use for gastric ulcers and disorders involving excessive acid secretion.

The lead author of the study is Annelise Madison, a graduate student in clinical psychology at Ohio State.

The study is published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

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