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Prilosec and other heartburn drugs can double risk of kidney failure, study finds

Kidney failure

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(NaturalNews) Popular heartburn drugs available over-the-counter as well as by prescription can double the risk of acute kidney failure, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and published in the journal CMAJ Open on April 16.

The study was conducted on a class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors, which are marketed under brand names including Prilosec, Prevacid and Zegerid. The drugs, which suppress the stomach's secretion of acid, are meant for very severe gastric reflux or ulcers. Nevertheless, tens of millions of people take them each year, often for relatively mild heartburn.

Risk more than doubles

The researchers compared approximately 290,000 people who had taken proton pump inhibitors between 2002 and 2011 with a similar number of people who had not used the drugs. The participants all lived in Ontario and were over the age of 65.

The study did not include anyone who had been prescribed proton pump inhibitors more than once in the prior year in an effort to focus only on new users of the drugs. It also excluded people with other known risk factors for acute kidney failure, including certain diseases, such as HIV and lupus, or recent antibiotic use.

The researchers discovered that among people who had taken proton pump inhibitors, the hospitalization rate for acute kidney failure over the next 120 days was 13.49 per 1,000. This was more than twice as high as the rate of 5.46 per 1,000 noted among non-users.

Drugs have wide-reaching effects

The study is only the latest one in a mounting body of evidence regarding the dangers of proton pump inhibitors. Research has shown that by disrupting the production of stomach acid, the drugs reduce the diversity of the gut microbiome. This creates an environment that favors the superbug C. difficile and several bacteria that cause pneumonia. One study found that people taking proton pump inhibitors had a C. difficile rate that was 74 percent higher than those not taking the drugs, and they were 42 percent more likely to suffer a recurrence. Studies have also shown higher rates of pneumonia among those taking the drugs.

Proton pump inhibitors also interfere with nutrient absorption in the stomach, leading to a deficiency in vitamin B12, iron and calcium. These deficiencies are associated with neurological problems and anemia. Unsurprisingly, the drugs have also been linked with an increased risk of brittle bones, fractures and osteoporosis.

The drugs also costs about twice as much as older, safer drugs used to treat dangerous reflux disorders.

The FDA has issued warnings about the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors and about any use of the higher-strength, prescription-only versions.

Commenting on the new study, gastroenterologist John O'Brian Clarke of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore echoed the growing consensus about the drugs.

"This study supports a growing body of literature to suggest that proton pump inhibitor use is not risk-free," Clarke said. "Clinicians should make every effort to restrict these agents only to patients who truly need proton pump inhibitor therapy and to find the minimum dose and duration of therapy necessary to treat their issues."

Lead author Tony Antoniou went even farther, emphasizing that proton pump inhibitors should only be a last resort.

"In many cases, lifestyle modifications (e.g. avoiding precipitating foods, weight loss) may be all that are required," he said.

Methods of controlling acid reflux without drugs include eating smaller portions; eating fewer fatty foods; avoiding alcohol, tobacco, drugs or foods known to trigger reflux; wearing loose fitting clothing; losing weight (even as little as 5 to 10 pounds); waiting two hours after eating before lying down; and using a block under the headboard to elevate the head of the bed.

(Natural News Science)



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