Heartburn and acid reflux aren’t fun to experience. And for those who suffer from chronic heartburn, acid reflux, or other similar gastrointestinal disorders, prescription medication has often been the only way to overcome the pain. But new research suggests that not only are many people who have been prescribed heartburn drugs not really in need of those drugs, they may actually be harming their long-term health.
Common heartburn drugs include brand names such as Prevacid, Prilosec, and Nexium. More than 15 million people in the US are prescribed those drugs for their gastrointestinal disorders. They’re known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). The other common method of dealing with heartburn and acid reflux is through H2 blockers such as Pepcid AC and Zantac.
Researchers combed through data from more than 200,000 people who had been prescribed either PPIs or H2 blockers by their doctors, then followed those participants for the next decade. They discovered that there was a 17 percent increased risk of death among those taking PPIs versus those taking H2 blockers.
The most common deaths were those resulting from heart disease, while kidney disease and stomach cancer were other causes of death. Kidney disease deaths were twice as high among the PPI group as among the H2 group. Higher doses and longer duration of PPI use increased the risk of death.
Perhaps most surprisingly, researchers discovered that over half of the people taking PPIs had no medical reason to take them. That’s incredibly concerning, that potentially millions of people today could be taking drugs that elevate their risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer, for no reason other than that their doctors may have wanted to push the latest pharmaceutical concoctions.
This should serve as a warning to anyone prescribed medication to perform due diligence before taking medication rather than just relying on the authority of a doctor. Your life and long-term health could very well be on the line.