Stomach Acid Drugs Come with Dangers, Studies Show

Potential side effects of popular proton pump inhibitors should not be ignored

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Among the other findings:

  • Postmenopausal women who took proton pump inhibitors were at increased risk of fractures. Researchers from University of Washington, Seattle, followed nearly 162,000 women aged 50 to 79 taking part in the Women's Health Initiative Study for about eight years. Women who took proton pump inhibitors were at increased risk of spine, forearm and wrist fractures, though not hip fractures. Researchers also found no decrease in bone mineral density.
  • Surviving C. difficile once doesn't mean you're out of the woods. Researchers from Boston Medical Center studied about 1,200 patients being treated for C. difficile and found those also treated with proton pump inhibitors had a 42 percent increased risk of getting the infection again.
  • Taking high-dose proton pump inhibitors don't reduce rates of bleeding, surgeries or death in patients with bleeding ulcers compared to regular proton pump inhibitor therapy, according to researchers in Taiwan.
  • Establishing guidelines for the appropriate use of proton pump inhibitors reduced the numbers of patients taking them from 27 percent to 16 percent at one hospital, according to a study by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Prescriptions at the time of discharge decreased from 16 percent to 10 percent.

The articles are part of the journal's series, "Less Is More," exploring areas in which too much health care -- diagnostic tests, medications or surgeries -- can leave patients worse off.

More information

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse has more on reflux and GERD.

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