Think twice before you pop that little purple pill

There’s a very common belief in America that a pill can fix anything.

We want to put forth the least amount of effort, with no consequences. But that’s just not realistic.

For instance, some people with diabetes believe they can overindulge whenever they want — they just have to take more insulin or blood sugar medication. Some with heart disease feel they don’t have to change the way that they eat — they just need to pop a statin.

It’s the same with antacids: We overeat, we drink too much, we stretch our holiday celebrations out for days and weeks on end. Then, when our gut inevitably starts screaming at us, we reach for our little purple pills and keep eating.

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is such a common problem that most Americans just dismiss it as a mere nuisance — one with a convenient variety of prescription and over-the-counter solutions. But this cavalier approach comes with some very real repercussions.

In fact, the problem is actually a lot more serious than you might think.

From heartburn to a broken hip

As you know, I’ve never been a big fan of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) — a class of drugs that includes Prilosec®, Prevacid®, and Nexium®, among others. And there’s a long list of reasons why — including the increased risk of cancer, heart attack, dementia, and death.

But today, I want to talk about another potentially lethal consequence linked with PPI use. And that’s a higher risk of hip fractures.

A recent analysis looked at two dozen studies, featuring more than two million subjects. And results showed that patients taking PPIs suffered a 20 percent higher risk of hip fracture, on average.

And that’s not all. The higher the dose, the higher the risk: Patients on low doses faced a 17 percent increase, while patients on higher doses suffered as much as a 30 percent higher risk of hip fracture.

This is not small potatoes, folks. And what’s worse, it’s not the first time we’re hearing about it, either.

If you’ve been a reader of mine since the beginning, you might recall that I first reported on this risk in the August 2012 issue of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“Heartburn drugs linked to hip fractures”). But unfortunately, nothing has changed since then. Including the enthusiasm with which doctors hand out prescriptions for these potentially lethal drugs.

There are safer options out there

If I were you, I’d be very concerned about the blatantly inappropriate use of PPIs that’s still happening today — as unsurprising as it is. After all, your typical drug commercial goes to great lengths to downplay any potential side effects.

And yes, it makes me angry. Because there actually is a simple solution for GERD. It entails eating less sugar and carbs, and avoiding specific foods that trigger your acid reflux (even if they are your favorites).

I’ve written several diet books at this point. If you followed any one of them to the letter, I can practically guarantee that your aggravating GERD would be history.

And if not? Well, there are several options outside of PPIs…

In fact, the research analysis found no increase in hip fracture risk among patients taking H2 receptor antagonists. (This class includes older drugs like Tagamet® and Zantac®—which, incidentally, make a lot less money for Big Pharma.)

And even if you have a disease like Barrett’s esophagus (changes to the lining of the esophagus, typically caused by GERD), these less risky drugs may still be on the table.

Just please keep in mind that none of these drugs have been studied beyond a short-term 8-week usage period…

So popping them like candy? Not a good idea. But you know what is? Reading the April 2014 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“Why your go-to antacid could be destroying your brain”), where you’ll find an in-depth discussion of the true causes behind chronic heartburn. And a detailed list of safe alternatives to deal with it.

Subscribers have access to that article and much, much more in my volumes of archives. So if you haven’t yet, consider signing up today.