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Heartburn Drugs = Broken Bones?

Dec 29, 2006

A new study reports elderly people taking prescription antacids could be at a greater risk of breaking a hip in a fall.
Tess Calbach goes to the Eau Claire Senior Citizen Center everyday and says she’s glad to have a place to “hang out.”
Several years back she had work done on her left hip.

She says her hip is doing fine now but she's taking medications for her stomach--Prilosec to be specific--a prescribed antacid.

She's been taking a pill a day with dinner for the past six years.

We asked her if she thought her bone replacements were because of the Prilosec. She says she doesn’t believe it had anything to do with it.

A study of nearly 14,000 hip fracture cases in Britain reports elderly people like Tess who take drugs like Prilosec, Prevacid, or Nexium may make it difficult for the body to absorb calcium.

That could lead to greater risks of getting broken hips.

“The longer you are taking this medication they found out that they risk of fractures actually goes up almost exponentially,” said Gastroenterology Dr. Olufemi Abiodun at Marshfield Clinic.

To be precise, the researchers report a 44 percent increased risk of breaking a hip during a fall.

But Dr. James O'Conner at Luther Midelfort doesn't agree it's that high.

“I think the direction is real there's probably a higher risk in that subgroup because the medications they reduce acidity.
Not all antacids are bad, O'Conner recommends Tums.

Tums have a calcium source so he even recommends taking five a day because people don't get enough of it in their diet.
Others like Zantac and Malox though are something different.

“The other drugs reduce the acidity in
the stomach and by reducing that, it reduces the ability for your body to metabolize and absorb calcium,” said O’Connor.
Doctors say more evidence is needed to prove the connections.

In the mean time, Tess says she's going to keep taking her meds.

“As long as I'm taking my vitamins and eat regularly I think my stomach can take care of it.


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