Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) medications are regularly used by tens of millions of Americans to control gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux and heartburn. Both over-the-counter and prescription versions of PPI’s are marketed to consumers as safe and effective for long-term usage with minimal side effects until late 2015 when adverse effects reported to the FDA began to spike with significant kidney issues arising after long-term use of drugs such as Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid. Side effects ranged in severity from chronic kidney infection to stage 4 kidney failure resulting in regular dialysis treatment.
Now a results of a new study involving the effects of long-term usage of PPIs has concluded that these medications may be even more dangerous by significantly increasing a patient’s risk of developing gastric, stomach & esophageal cancers.
The study, which was recently published in Gut medical journal, an academic publication that focuses on stomach health research, examined people who were regular users of either over-the-counter or prescription PPI drugs for 3 or more years. Although stomach cancer is quite rare, of the patients studied on proton pump inhibitors it appears that the drug may have doubled their risk of being diagnosed with the deadly disease. What is even more alarming is that those taking the medications for three years or longer showed an 8 times higher likelihood of developing stomach cancer.
We must be skeptical in health studies like this, however, and look at other factors that may come in to play that appear as a correlation but does not equate to causality. Many other health issues such as smoking, drinking and obesity, for example, can contribute to these cancers and this particular study fails to factor these in to the numbers. On the other hand, this is not the first time a scientific research study has linked the popular heartburn medications to cancer. In 2011 a research team of scientists at the University of Pittsburgh discovered a link between PPI’s and an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. Another study later found the medications doubled a patient’s odds of developing stomach cancer.
Proton pump inhibitors like AstraZeneca’s Nexium work by limiting the stomach’s ability to create acid and therefore reduces the occurrence of heartburn and acid reflux. The effectiveness of Nexium is obvious by looking at the drug’s popularity. In 2016 alone, Nexium sales exceeded $2 billion.
In another study, scientists examined the medical records of 700,000 people who have been regularly using Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid and compared them with the general population. The results were very similar to the previous studies: those taking PPI’s were significantly more likely to develop these kinds of cancers.
It is still in the very early stages of PPI health risk research and it should be stated that those concerned about their own usage of the popular heartburn medications should speak with their doctor about the likelihood of developing gastric cancer, esophageal cancer and stomach cancer.
The most common side effects of proton pump inhibitors are:
More serious side effects associated with PPI use include:
High doses of PPI medications and long-term usage of 1yr or longer may increase the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures.
Available proton pump inhibitors include:
First and foremost, stick to your doctor’s recommendations regarding treatment and whether or not to continue taking PPI medications. Next, get professional legal help by contacting Schmidt National Law Group today for a free case evaluation by calling 1-800-631-5656.
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