Study: Heartburn medications increase risk of dementia in seniors

Certain heartburn medications have already been linked to health problems including heart and kidney disease, but now a study says those drugs may also boost the likelihood of dementia.

According to a study in JAMA Neurology, people aged 75 and up who used proton-pump inhibitors like Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium had a 44-percent higher risk of dementia.

The study analyzed a German health insurer's data of nearly 74,000 customers between 2004 - 2011.

More clinical trials are needed to analyze the possible link, senior study author Britta Haenisch told CBS News. The journal did no t account for lifestyle and diet which can influence dementia risk.

Haenisch also said "clinicians should follow guidelines for PPI prescription, to avoid overprescribing PPIs and inappropriate use."

Another study found up to 70-percent of PPI prescriptions may be unnecessary reactions to minor cases of acid reflux or heartburn.

"The teaching for many years was that these drugs were quite safe," a gastroenterologist told NPR. "But there is data that's emerging that suggests PPIs may not be as safe as we think they are."