Heartburn drugs can raise the risk of a broken hip in people older than 50 when they are taken for more than a year, according to a study of more than 145,000 seniors.
The researchers believe the drugs may make it more difficult for the body to absorb calcium, leading to weaker bones and fractures.
The drugs causing the most problems were of a class known as proton pump inhibitors, which include Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec. There was a similar but smaller risk of hip fractures for drugs called H2 blockers, such as Tagamet and Pepcid.
Patients who used proton pump inhibitors for more than a year had a 44 percent greater risk of hip fracture, and the longer they took the drug, the greater the risk. And those who took high doses had more than twice the risk of hip fractures. Men in the study were more at risk than women, possibly because women may get more calcium in their diets.
Nexium is the third best-selling drug in the world, with annual sales exceeding $5 billion. People with chronic heartburn can develop painful ulcers in the esophagus, and in rare cases, some can end up with damage that can lead to esophageal cancer.
The list of reasons not to take proton pump inhibitors (PPI) for your heartburn is growing. And taking an H2 blocker such as Tagamet or Pepcid won't do your health any good, either. In fact, these are some of the worst drugs that you could possibly take.
They significantly reduce the amount of acid you have, inhibiting your ability to properly digest food. Reduction of acid in the stomach also diminishes your primary defense mechanism for food-borne infections and will increase your risk of food poisoning.
I can assure you the number of people who actually need this drug is less than one in 100 of those taking it. In other words, people are being prescribed drugs for heartburn when it is one of the easiest medical problems to treat.
Most people ignore that heartburn is an important clue from their body and rely on a drug to suppress the symptoms.
This is the equivalent of driving your car and ignoring the engine light that comes on on your dashboard to warn you of a problem. Using a Band-Aid like Prilosec to cover the light allows you to ignore the problem and, although it may solve the problem in the short-term, the implications for ignoring this important clue are quite obvious.
You could be looking at more costly repairs by not acknowledging the symptom. So what is the solution for heartburn?
There are several key points:
And what is the solution for not getting burned by the pharmaceutical companies any more?
For a more in-depth discussion of how you can recognize and treat this condition, as well as why you'll want to avoid heartburn drugs, check out my past article, How to Recognize and Treat Upset Stomach and Heartburn.
On Vital Votes, biochemist Dr. Russ Bianchi asks: