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Acid-Suppressors Boost Risk of Death

A new study from Italy suggests that powerful acid-suppressing drugs called proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, may increase the risk of premature death in older people who were recently discharged from the hospital. These drugs are widely prescribed for symptoms of heartburn. They are also used to prevent ulcers in hospitalized patients.

The observational study of almost 500 patients included questionnaires in the hospital and a year-long follow-up after discharge. Older patients taking a PPI such as omeprazole upon discharge were significantly more likely to die during the following year compared to patients not taking such drugs.

The authors point out that this finding is consistent with other research. PPI use increases the risk of pneumonia, the digestive tract infection called C. diff, fractures due to weakened bones and various nutritional deficiencies. They conclude that “physicians should balance benefits and harms in the long-term prescription of high-dose PPIs to older people.”

[<em>JAMA Internal Medicine, online, March 4, 2013]

We have long been concerned about these medications. It can be extremely difficult to discontinue drugs such as Aciphex (rabeprazole), Nexium (esomeprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole) or Protonix (pantoprazole). Here is an earlier story and a link to an interview that Joe did on NPR regarding this topic.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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