This is likely the strongest warning ever issued about one of the most popular drugs out there.
Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are sounding the alarm louder than ever before about those acid-suppressing meds called proton pump inhibitors.
These are the ones with familiar names like Nexium and Prilosec that you can pick right up off the shelf practically anywhere.
To give you an idea of the magnitude of the risk, the study contains the word “death” a total of 78 times.
What the researchers found was so shocking, you would think the FDA would step in immediately and put these drugs back behind the pharmacy counter where they belong.
But if stomach acid is a problem, there are some simple ways to control it that won’t be putting your life in jeopardy.
“No matter how we sliced and diced the data…we saw the same thing,” said the senior author of this new study, who is affiliated with the St. Louis VA health system.
And that “thing” was “an increased risk of death” in those who use PPI drugs.
It sure doesn’t get more to the point than that, does it?
The St. Louis research team examined the records of millions of veterans through data that spanned six years.
They compared the vets who took these PPI meds to another group who used a different type of acid-reducers, called H2 blockers. And they found that the longer these vets took those PPI drugs, the greater their risk of dying became.
After just one to two years of popping these meds, their average risk of dying was an astronomical 50 percent higher than it was for the vets who took the H2 blockers. And we both know that for many people these drugs are a lifetime commitment, one that can easily become a death sentence.
But even taking these drugs for under a year isn’t safe. Those short-term PPI users were discovered to have a 25 percent higher risk of dying than those who took the other type of meds.
While the exact cause of death wasn’t listed on the data the researchers used, you can really just fill in the blank from a long list of conditions.
For one, there’s kidney failure. Just a few months ago, I told you about research done by the same St. Louis researchers, who said that PPI meds can destroy your kidneys “silently and gradually over time.”
Then there’s the bone fracture risk. Breaking a hip or spine won’t do much for your longevity. And don’t expect to find that warning on the packages of these OTC meds, either, because it’s only mentioned on the prescription versions. In a wink and a nod to Big Pharma back when these drugs made the leap from being available as an Rx only, the Food and Drug Administration said it would be fine to leave that little notice off the ones sold over the counter.
The “thinking” of the agency was that since the product is only “intended” to be used for 14 days, there’s no fracture risk to worry about!
Seriously? People take these drugs for the long haul, every single day. And you can’t tell me the FDA doesn’t know that.
PPI drugs have also been found to up your risk of the most deadly kind of esophageal cancer, increase the chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke, lower your immune function, and open the door to deadly C. diff infections.
That’s why if you or a loved one are still taking one of these drugs, the time has come to stop, look, and listen. And remember, there are many other ways to control acid without putting yourself at risk of dying prematurely.
- Eat slowly and try smaller portions.
- Try a “sleep wedge.” HSI panel member Dr. Glenn Rothfeld suggests using a wedge at night to keep stomach acid down where it belongs. It’s much more effective than a pillow, allowing gravity to work to your advantage.
- Cut back on acidic drinks, such as coffee and some fruit juices.
- Start taking a high-quality probiotic daily.
- Sip on a glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in it.
But as we’ve told you before, never, ever stop taking these drugs suddenly. That can give you the worst case of excess acid you’ve ever had. Slowly lower your dose until you’re down to zero.
And then, never start up again.
“Popular heartburn drugs linked to higher death risk” Washington University School of Medicine, July 3, 2017, EurekAlert, eurekalert.org