Risks of Proton Pump Inhibitors

Concerning News About a Class of Heartburn Drugs

It seems like every week there are new reports of harmful side-effects of popular heartburn drugs that are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).  They are prescription and over-the counter drugs widely used to treat GERDs, heartburn and ulcers.  

Long-term PPI use increased risks of mortality, gastric cancer, pneumonia, bone fractures and magnesium deficiency. Common short-term adverse effects of PPIs include headache, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and dizziness.  Infrequent adverse effects include rash, itch, flatulence, constipation, anxiety, and depression.

Not only do PPIs have negative side effects, but they also do not work for up to 25% of the population. Here are the available proton pump inhibitor drugs:

  • omeprazole (Prilosec, Prilosec OTC, Zegerid)
  • lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • pantoprazole (Protonix)
  • rabeprazole (Aciphex)
  • esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • dexlansoprazole (Dexilant)

Increased Mortality for PPI Users

A recent study found that “people who take PPIs for about a year have about a 25% higher risk  of death,’ says Al-Aly, MD, who’s also an assistant professor of medicine at  Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Because millions of people take PPIs regularly, that 25% chance could translate into thousands of deaths a year, Al-Aly said.'” 

NaturCress now gives people an alternative to PPIs and their potential dangers for relief from occasional heartburn.  Source: WebMD

“Taking PPIs is associated with a small excess of cause specific mortality including death due to cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and upper gastrointestinal cancer.”

1 “Estimates of all cause mortality and cause specific mortality associated with proton pump inhibitors among US veterans: cohort study“. BMJ. (formerly British Medical Journal), 365: l1580. doi:10.1136/bmj.l1580. ISSN 0959-8138. PMC 6538974. PMID 31147311, Xie Y, Bowe B, Yan Y, Xian H, Li T, Al-Aly Z (30 May 2019).  Washington University School of Medicine (30 May 2019).

PPIs Linked to Pneumonia in Older Adults

Researchers at the University of Exeter have found a statistical link between pneumonia in older people and a group of medicines commonly used to neutralise stomach acid in people with heartburn or stomach ulcers. Although Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) are still a valuable group of medicines, research is indicating that PPIs are not as completely safe for older people as previously thought. Study done in 2018.

Increased Risk of Gastric Cancer from PPIs

“Cheung KS, Chan EW, Wong AYS, et al. (2018) showed that even after H. pylori eradication, long-term PPI use is still associated with an increased risk of gastric cancer by more than twofold. Hence, long-term PPIs should be used judiciously after considering individual’s risk–benefit profile, particularly among those with history of H. pylori infection. Further well-designed prospective studies are warranted to confirm the potential role of PPIs in gastric cancer according to baseline gastric histology and its interaction with other chemopreventive agents like aspirin, statins and metformin. ” 

Cheung, Ka Shing; Leung, Wai K. (January 2019). “Long-term use of proton-pump inhibitors and risk of gastric cancer: a review of the current evidence“. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. 12: 175628481983451.

FDA Reports Increased Risk of Bone Fractures from PPIs

High dose or long-term use of PPIs carries a possible increased risk of bone fractures which was not found with short-term, low dose use; the FDA included a warning regarding this on PPI drug labels in 2010.  

FDA Drug Safety Communication: Possible increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist, and spine with the use of proton pump inhibitors“, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 23 March 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2015.

Other Adverse Effects of PPIs

Common adverse effects of PPIs include headache, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and dizziness.  Infrequent adverse effects include rash, itch, flatulence, constipation, anxiety, and depression according to Rossi S, editor. Australian Medicines Handbook 2006. Adelaide: Australian Medicines Handbook; 2006. ISBN 0-9757919-2-3

Low levels of magnesium can be found in people on PPI therapy.  Corleto VD, Festa S, Di Giulio E, Annibale B (February 2014). “Proton pump inhibitor therapy and potential long-term harm“. Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity. 21 (1): 3–8.

NaturCress® Has a Light Touch

NaturCress is not a replacement for prescription drugs for frequent heartburn. It is drug-free. People do use the OTC (over-the-counter) versions of these PPI drugs for episodic heartburn and NaturCress can be a useful alternative for them. NaturCress has a light touch but is effective for most users.

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