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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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October 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 8)

Indigestion pills killing 4 per cent of users
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Indigestion pills killing 4 per cent of users image

Indigestion pills, known as antacids or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), are killing 4 per cent of people who regularly take them.

PPIs—which include Prilosec (omeprazole) and Prevacid (lansoprazole)—cause health problems such as circulation disorders and infectious and parasitic diseases that can eventually kill. PPIs are causing 45.20 'excess deaths' from every 1,000 people who take them, researchers estimate.

Earlier research has found that PPIs also cause cardiovascular disease, acute kidney injury, dementia, gastric cancer, C. difficile infections and osteoporosis.

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis analysed a database of US veterans for their use of PPIs. In a two-year period, more than 405,000 veterans were prescribed the drug for the first time, and more than 177,000 of these had been prescribed a 90-day supply. By comparison, around 56,000 had been prescribed an H2 blocker, another type of indigestion drug.

Over the next 10 years, more than 80,000 of the veterans died—and there were more deaths among the PPI users than in those taking H2 blockers.

The most common causes of death among the PPI group were circulatory problems, responsible for 38 per cent of deaths, and cancers, which caused 29 per cent of deaths.

PPIs are handed out indiscriminately and for far longer periods than necessary, the researchers say—and doctors don't realise just how dangerous the drugs are.


References

(Source: BMJ, 2019; 365: l1580)

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