FDA Sounds Alarm on Dangers of Antacid Drugs | Chris Kresser

FDA Sounds Alarm on Dangers of Antacid Drugs

by Chris Kresser

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In a shockingly rare example of the FDA actually doing its job, a report was issued on Tuesday cautioning against the prolonged use of a class of acid stopping drugs called proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs).

Who knows, maybe someone at the FDA read my series on heartburn and GERD, especially this article and this one detailing the dangers of acid stopping drugs?

This is a really big deal. PPIs are one of the most popular classes of drugs prescribed. Doctors wrote 114 million prescriptions for them last year. Americans spend $5.1 billion on Nexium, the most popular PPI, alone.

The FDA report cautions against high doses or prolonged use of PPIs, because they’ve been shown to increase the risk of infection, bone fractures and dementia.

But the danger doesn’t stop there. As I pointed out in my series, all acid stopping drugs (not just PPIs) inhibit nutrient absorption, promote bacterial overgrowth, reduce resistance to infection and increase the risk of cancer and other serious diseases.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad the FDA finally issued this warning. But I can’t help wondering how someone who has been taking a PPI for 20 years is going to feel about it. If I were one of those people, I’d be incredibly angry. Especially because researchers who studied these drugs before they were approved by the FDA years ago sounded a similar warning.

In fact, when the drugs were first approved, it was recommended that they be taken for no longer than six weeks because of these same concerns the FDA is only now warning us about! Looks like someone dropped the ball on that one, because it’s not at all uncommon to encounter people who’ve been on a PPI for two decades. After writing the GERD series, I heard from several people in that group.

So please forward this article to anyone you know who has been taking one of these dangerous drugs for any longer than six weeks. And believe me, you know one of these people. We all do. You may even be one of them.

If you or a loved one wants to get off these drugs and treat GERD naturally, the the series on my blog clearly explains how to do that.

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  1. I’ve had GERD all my life, due to my physiology. I was born with a hiatal hernia; my diaphragm does not close tightly where my esophagus meets my stomach, allowing acid to come up. The surgery to fix it would be nasty- they wrap the stomach around the esophagus one time and staple it in. Can have all kinds of complications like inability to belch, not to mention it is a de facto partial gastric bypass because they’re using part of the stomach itself (I’m already skinny). No thanks. Tried PPI’s- absolutely awful. After a few months I would loose my appetite after the first bite of food and become nauseous. So for years I have been surviving off Pepsid Complete which combines famitodine with the main ingredients in Rolaids, taken only as needed. Usually once a day. This has done me well, but my intuition is telling me that time is up. These drugs only cover up the symptoms. I found the best way to manage my GERD without any pills is DIET and diet alone. Once I began paying attention to which foods did what to my body without any medication I was shocked. The worst offender: SUGAR. Time and time again after I ate or drank something sugary, even something small, I would breathe fire. Makes sense, since sugar turns acidic in the body. Now I eat like a diabetic. Secondly, eating out of a box or a drive thru window; we all know that type of food is bad. Lastly, the QUANTITY of food I took in in a day. When I ate an excess of food, the more the fire burned. A 30% reduction in calories (2 hearty meals a day, not 3) did wonders.

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