April 19, 2024   5:58pm

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Acid Reflux or Bad Bones? Pick One.

Sometime ago, I took the drug Fosamax as a precaution against Osteoporosis. One of the side-effects was acid reflux, so I was relieved to learn about the drugs called PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors) which have a great track record of suppressing those symptoms. My friends young (college age!) and old swore by them“ Nexium, Prilosec, Aciphex“ so this seemed an easy fix. Thus, when my gastro-guy waved a red flag and said: “Stay away“ these are damaging to your bones,” I was flummoxed! What! That’s how I got into this situation in the first place“ trying to save my bones!

And so, dear readers, when this Science News article confirming the issues surrounding these seemingly innocuous drugs appeared, I had to pass it on to you. Beware! But, also be informed (you know how every study differs sooner or later) and make your choices accordingly.

It’s enough to give you Heartburn
“Wonder drugs they may be, but PPI’s are overprescribed and pose some health risks”
By Nathan Seppa
December 4, 2010

Some highlights regarding bone fractures:

PPI’s like Nexium, Prilosec and Aciphenx block acid manufacturer at the subcellular level, and while they a require a day or two to start suppressing the symptoms of acid reflux, once they kick in, “they put out the fire with stunning efficiency.”
Tums and Maalox neutralize the acid; Zantac and Tagament slow down acid production by blocking the histamine 2-receptor.

“Studies suggest that PPIs have accumulated a rap sheet linking them to a heightened risk of broken bones, bacterial infections and a few rare conditions … weaning oneself off unnecessarily prescribed PPIs can be difficult and can cause, of all things, heartburn.”

However … “Although long-term use can carry risks, none compares to the consequences of untreated reflux disease … When a leaky valve allows acid to splash up from the stomach, the result is acid reflux. Left untreated, it can cause esophageal scarring and even cancer.”

“Topping the list of PPI drawbacks is the specter of bone fractures. Metz and colleagues reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006 that people who had been taking a PPI for more than a year had a 30 to 60 percent increased risk of hip fracture over those not taking acid blockers. A higher dose of PPIs boosted the risk to more than double. A Danish study, published the same year in Calcified Tissue International, also found that PPIs increased the risk of a broken hip by about half.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this year slapped a fracture warning label on PPIs, both prescribed and over-the-counter, citing these and four other studies that showed an increase of fractures in people using the drugs.

While scientists are still sorting out how PPIs might affect bone, some theorize that acid is needed to dissolve calcium compounds, making calcium available in the blood and thus to the bone.”

If you’re on these drugs or considering taking them, we suggest you read this article, ask your doctor and, then, make a decision based upon what’s right for you.


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