Another study has linked commonly prescribed heartburn drugs to fatal health conditions. This isn’t the first time that research has shown that these drugs have serious side effects. Also linked to liver disease and kidney disease, it may be time to reconsider popping those antacids and looking for an alternative. The class of drugs that were looked at is called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These are commonly prescribed to treat gastrointestinal conditions that involve an excess of acid production. Nexium, Aciphex, Zegerid, Dexilant, Prevacid, Prilosec, and Protonix are only some of the brand names that PPIs have taken over the years.
More than 15 million people in the United States take prescription PPIs, according to the most recent statistics available, and even more may be taking over-the-counter PPIs. This study published in the journal The BMJ, suggests that these drugs may increase the risk of death from various chronic health conditions.
The researchers examined data from the medical records of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. They at looked at data available from mid-2002 to mid-2004, a period during which 157,625 people in the cohort received PPI prescriptions from their physicians and 56,842 people received H2 blockers, another kind of acid suppressant.
The researchers concluded that taking PPIs for long periods of time was associated with an excess of mortality from cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease even when taken at low dosages. They also that over half of the patients were taking PPIs without any medical need for them. This group also had an increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and upper gastrointestinal cancer.
The study suggests the need to avoid PPIs when not medically necessary. For those who have a medical need, a PPI use should be limited to the lowest effective dose and shortest duration possible. It is also critical to get to the root cause of the reflux. Consider doing micronutrient testing, food sensitivity testing, and testing to check for overgrowth of bad bacteria or yeast or H. pylori.
In addition, nutrients and herbs can be a safe and effective approach to supporting gastrointestinal health. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), glutamine, aloe, zinc carnosine, magnesium, digestive enzymes and probiotics can all promote digestive wellness and help with reflux. One of my favorite digestive supplements is Pathway GI Optimal Support, which is available in both capsule and powder form and provides comprehensive support for gut health.
If you have any questions or concerns about the medication you are taking, we encourage you to talk to your doctor. We also invite you to call our health experts at Village Green to discuss natural ways to support your gastrointestinal health.
Photo from here, with thanks.