If you've ever popped a couple Rolaids after dinner, you've experienced acid reflux, or heartburn. The burning sensation in behind the breastbone can be painful and frustrating Wouldn't it be nice to have a stronger medication that staved off these attacks at all times of the day?

Proton pump inhibitors, which temporarily stop the stomach from producing acid, are a more intense form of heartburn medication. This has led people to assume they are dangerous. To debunk 6 myths about safety issues with proton pump inhibitors, we call on the experts at the National Heartburn Alliance.[1

1. Heart attacks. In 2007 the Food and Drug Administration reviewed claims that proton pump inhibitors might cause heart attacks. They determined, however, that the subjects who had problems were older and thus more likely to have the heart problems regardless of their involvement with proton pump inhibitors.

2. Hip fractures. In 2006 a large European study showed how older people, primarily women, were at greater risk of breaking a hip if they were using proton pump inhibitors. However, the weakening of bones can be attributed to reduced calcium absorption in people with suppressed acid production. The best way to avoid broken hips, then, is not stop using proton pump inhibitors, but to maintain a balanced diet that is high in calcium.

3. Problems with nutrient absorption. The two important nutrients for healthy blood and nerve function are iron and vitamin B12, both of which need stomach acid to be absorbed. But most people who take proton pump inhibitors do not experience a drop in their acid level that is so low it cannot absorb the nutrients.

4. Bacterial infections. Bacteria entering the upper gastrointestinal tract can be reduced by stomach acid. Because people who take proton pump inhibitors may be more susceptible to food- and water-borne infections, they should thoroughly wash and clean all fruits, vegetables, meats, and poultries.

5. Reduced effect of antibiotics. Strong antibiotics kill good bacteria, and if good bacteria in the intestine are destroyed, bad bacteria called Clostridium difficile can cause severe diarrhea. Recent studies have suggested that risk of developing Clostridium difficile infection may be slightly greater in people receiving proton pump inhibitors. However, A) this rarely occurs outside of a hospital, and B) stopping proton pump inhibitors if you need them is not likely to significantly impact Clostridium difficle infection.

6. Pneumonia. In 2004 a study showed how people using acid suppressing medication, like proton pump inhibitors, might be more likely to develop pneumonia. However, the people who used the proton pump inhibitors were more likely to have lung disease, heart disease, cancer and diabetes-conditions that increase risk for pneumonia.


Source: [1] www.heartburnalliance.com