Acid Reflux Drugs Risk Of Cancer. A recent article from Science Alert has revealed a troubling finding: some medications that have regularly been used to treat heartburn and acid reflux may be linked to stomach cancer. In fact, the risk may be more than double the average risk, according to new research.
The medications implement the use of proton pump inhibitors or PPIs. These substances reduce stomach acid production. They are among some of the most frequently purchased prescriptions in the world. Now, new research suggests that taking these medications for extended periods of time may increase the risk of stomach cancer by nearly 250 percent.
The increased risk is related to Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium. This bacterium lives in the bodies of more than half of the humans on earth-often with no complications. However, in a small fraction of these individuals, the bacterium has been linked to developing stomach cancer.
According to previous studies, those who have lingering Helicobacter pylori infections and take PPIs have a higher risk of developing atrophic gastritis, which often precedes stomach cancer.
At this time, it is not understood how the medications and the bacteria possibly triggered the development of stomach cancer. Previously, researchers believed that ridding the body of the infection before using PPIs could reduce the risk of cancer. However, recent findings show that this may not be true.
Ian Wong, a researcher from University College London, said, “Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are an important treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection and have good safety records for short-term use. However, unnecessary long-term use should be avoided.”
Wong and his colleagues analyzed a Hong Kong database. The database included 63,397 adults that were treated with two antibiotics, as well as a PPI, to treat a Helicobacter pylori infection. Once the infection was eliminated, the individuals were observed for about seven and a half years. During that time, around 3,271 individuals continued using PPIs. Approximately 21,729 other individuals used H2 blockers instead of PPIs.
Of the original 63,397 individuals, 153 were diagnosed with stomach cancer. Those individuals who used PPIs were 2.44 times more likely to develop cancer. However, those who took H2 blockers did not appear to be at increased risk of developing cancer.
More frequent use of PPIs, as well as long-term use of the medication, was associated with an increased risk as well.
The study concluded that using PPIs every day was linked to a greater risk of cancer-4.55 times greater than the baseline risk. If the PPIs were taken for more than a three-year period, the risk could be 8-fold.
The authors emphasized that the study was observational in nature. Causation has not been determined. However, it hints that there is more to stomach cancer than previously thought.
Richard Ferrero, a gastrointestinal infection researcher from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, commented, “Interestingly, the authors found no such correlation between gastric cancer risk and long-term treatment with other anti-suppressive drugs…suggesting that acid suppression is not the sole factor. The work has important clinical implications as PPIs, which are among the top 10 selling generic drugs in the US, are commonly prescribed to treat heartburn.”
Ferrero was not involved in the study.
It is important to recognize that the overall risk is still quite low. Per 10,000 individuals, the use of PPIs was linked to only an additional 4 cases of stomach cancer each year. More research is needed, but it provides valuable insight into possible complications that could arise with the long-term use of PPIs.
Stephen Evans, a pharmacoepidemiologist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, noted, “Many observational studies have found adverse effects associated with PPIs. The most plausible explanation for the totality of evidence on this is that those who are given PPIs, and especially those who continue on them long-term, tend to be sicker in a variety of ways than those for whom they are not prescribed.”
Evans was also not involved in the study.
Are drug companies liable for injuries caused by medications?
Drug companies must provide medications that are safe for public consumption. If it is discovered that a drug is not safe, for example, the drug causes serious side effects-the company may be liable for damages.
To prove the that your injuries were caused by a PPI, the injured patient must describe how he or she was taking the medication, how much was taken, and what symptoms the medicine was supposed to treat. The injured patient should also expect to submit numerous medical records and other types of evidence to support allegations against the pharmaceutical company. The evidence presented in a drug injury claim may include:
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Documentation of lost wages
- Expert witness reports
- Witness statements
- Deposition transcripts
- Video footage
- Prescription records
- Internal records from the pharmaceutical company
- Advertising materials from the pharmaceutical company
Some other types of evidence may also be included. The type of evidence needed in a case depends on the nature of the injury claim.
If an individual prevails in a drug injury claim, that individual may be entitled to a number of damages, including:
- Medical bills incurred because of the drug injury
- Lost wages, if the victim missed work to recover from his or her injuries
- The cost of any future medical care that may be required, such as physical therapy or surgeries
- The cost of altering a residence, such as installing wheelchair ramps or chair lifts
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Other damages may also be available, depending on the circumstances of the drug injury claim.
It is crucial to consult with an experienced drug injury attorney as soon as you realize your injury because there are deadlines in place that limit how long a victim has to file a claim after being injured. If these deadlines are missed, the victim may forever lose the right to pursue legal action against the pharmaceutical company.
Drug attorneys understand what types of evidence should be submitted in drug injury claims. Drug injury claims are notoriously complex. They require a detailed understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the human body, as well as personal injury laws and products liability laws.
Your drug injury attorney will go over the legal process with you in detail. You will know what to expect during each phase of the case. Your drug injury attorney advocates on your behalf both inside and outside of the courtroom. Though most cases settle before they reach the steps of the courthouse, should your claim go to trial, your attorney will be by your side throughout the entire ordeal. Drug injury attorneys ensure that their clients’ interests are protected, whether the claim is settled or goes to a jury for deliberation.
Without the assistance of a drug injury attorney, you may unknowingly forfeit your legal rights and the amount of damages you may be entitled to.
Contact Parker Waichman LLP Today to Discuss your Acid Reflux Medication Cancer Claim
At Parker Waichman LLP, our PPI Cancer Lawsuit Attorneys are not afraid to take on the pharmaceutical companies. We protect your interests throughout your claim’s process. To schedule your free consultation, call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).