Heartburn meds linked to 25% increase in risk of death

There are just no free rides when it comes to any drug. End of story. And yes, that includes over the counter medications. Far too many people take them thinking they’re safe simply because they can get them in any supermarket or big box store. Think again folks.

Aspirin is a perfect example. Earlier this week, I told you about a study showing how aspirin increases risk of internal bleeding — and death — much more than previously appreciated.

I also told you that instead of taking that finding to its natural conclusion (that we should toss the aspirin into the trash where it belongs), the mainstream medical community is taking its usual tack. Which is to recommend more drugs to cover up the problem.

But the drugs they’re peddling as a fix have just been revealed to be deadly too. And they’re nearly as common as aspirin these days. In fact, if you’ve ever had heartburn, chances are your doctor has recommended them to you. Or you may have even just picked them up over-the-counter.

These drugs, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), also fall into that category of drugs that are so ubiquitous that people assume they’re safe. Some of the most popular ones — Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid — are so widely used that they’ve become household names.

But once again, research is showing that just because drugs are common doesn’t make them safe.

This new study that’s making waves (even in mainstream media) found that PPIs, which are widely used for controlling stomach acid, are linked with an increased risk for death. From any cause.

This makes sense to me on so many different levels as a health care professional. I mean we need stomach acid in order to digest food, absorb nutrients, and begin digestion. It is critical to our gut flora. And as we know, our gut flora controls almost every aspect of our health. Yet, most doctors think nothing of having their patients on these drugs for decades.

In just the first decade of the 21st century, PPI use nearly doubled. Even though numerous studies have linked these drugs to strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

And now we can add all-cause mortality to that list.

The current study followed more than 6 million people for nearly 6 years. The researchers matched up three different groups for head-to-head comparison:

  • Group 1: those taking PPIs compared to those taking histamine-2 (H2)–blockers (like Pepcid, Zantac, or Tagamet)
  • Group 2: people taking PPIs compared to people not taking PPIs
  • Group 3: people taking PPIs compared to people not taking PPIs or H2-blockers

In all three groups, PPIs proved to be risky. In all cases, there was approximately a 25 percent increased risk of death associated with using PPIs. And the longer people used the drugs, the worse their risk was.

The authors even went so far as to say, “The consistency of study findings in our report and the growing body of evidence in the literature showing a host of adverse events associated with PPI use are compelling…Limiting PPI use to instances and durations where it is medically indicated may be warranted.”

This is the typical case of a drug being overprescribed and then never unprescribed. In other words, the person just keeps taking it, indefinitely. Even though it was never intended for continual use. But that’s just how most mainstream doctors operate.

In fact, I may be the only doctor in the world who looks to see how many drugs I can eliminate from a person’s regimen (and, for the record, I still get amazing results).

I just can’t understand why that approach isn’t more common. Especially when eating right could eliminate the need for nearly all PPIs and H2-blockers.

Let’s see…eating in a healthy way and feeling great, or popping pills every day, and upping your risk for disease and early death.

The choice is clear to me.