Study Shows Widely Used Heartburn Drugs Increase the Risk for Kidney DiseaseJan 18, 2016
A study newly published online in JAMA Internal Medicine indicates that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)-the widely used heartburn medicines-may increase the risk for kidney disease.
PPIs are sold under brand names, including Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec, in both prescription and over-the-counter formulas. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) work by greatly reducing the amount of acid produced by the stomach lining. Less stomach acid reduces irritation of the stomach lining and allows ulcers and irritation of the esophagus to to heal, according to WebMD.
For their study, the researchers followed 10,482 people for an average of 13.9 years, comparing those who used PPIs to nonusers and to people who used another type of heartburn medicine-H2 receptor antagonists (Zantac, Tagamet and Pepcid, among others), the New York Times reports. After adjusting for a number of variables, the researchers found that the use of P.P.I.s was independently associated with a 20 to 50 percent higher risk of chronic kidney disease. (The use of H2 receptor antagonists was not independently associated with kidney problems.)
The researchers validated the association in a separate group of 250,000 patients receiving care in a large rural health care system.
PPI use has already been linked to bone fractures, pneumonia, and Clostridium difficile infection, according to the New York Times. C. difficile usually occurs when someone has taken antibiotics that change the normal colon bacteria allowing C. difficile bacteria to grow and produce toxins, according to the American college of Gastroenterology. And a study published in June 2015 in PLOS One showed that people who take proton pump inhibitor drugs for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are at increased risk for heart attacks.
The senior author of the JAMA Internal Medicine article, Dr. Morgan E. Grams, a kidney specialist at Johns Hopkins, said, "The study doesn’t prove that P.P.I.s cause kidney disease." Dr. Grams says the authors "don’t want to cause alarm. P.P.I.s are great medicines, and sometimes life saving. But like all medications, there are risks and benefits." Grams says doctors can approach the risk of kidney disease by routinely monitoring kidney function in patients who require a long course of PPIs, according to the Times.