From Dr. Mercola:
Heartburn drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are among the most commonly used drugs in the world. About 15 million Americans use PPIs, either in prescription or over-the-counter form. Brand names include Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium.
The drugs have long been touted as a safe way to relieve heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux. They work by inhibiting the production of acid in your stomach, which helps to relieve symptoms but appears to have a number of unintended consequences as well, including for your kidneys.
PPIs have previously been linked to a kidney disorder called acute interstitial nephritis. Now researchers have linked them to the risk of chronic kidney disease, prompting experts to call for more caution in their use.
Heartburn Drugs May Increase Your Risk of Kidney Disease
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health analyzed two sets of data representing more than 250,000 people.1
In the first set, the 10-year absolute risk of developing chronic kidney disease was 11.8 percent among those taking PPIs compared to 8.5 percent among those not taking the drugs.
The second analysis found the 10-year absolute risk of chronic kidney disease among those taking PPIs was 15.6 percent compared to 13.9 percent among non-users.2
The study left some unanswered questions, like how long those who developed kidney disease had been taking PPIs. It’s also not known how the drugs may be harming the kidneys.
Many of those taking PPIs had other risk factors for kidney disease as well, including being more likely to use blood pressure medication (high blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of kidney disease).
However, even though the analysis couldn’t prove that PPIs were directly responsible for the increased risk of kidney disease, the finding warrants caution in the drugs’ use, especially given their prevalence.
Adam Schoenfeld, an internal medicine resident at the University of California, San Francisco, said in an accompanying editorial, “mounting evidence demonstrates that PPIs are associated with a number of adverse effects and are overprescribed.”3 He continued in NPR:
“I think it’s a pretty big concern When they first came out they weren’t associated with side effects, or we didn’t think they were So we put [people] on this medication thinking: ‘It’s a quick fix and they’re very safe.’ But in actuality they’re associated with a range of side effects.”
PPIs Are Also Linked to Heart Risks
If you take PPIs, you should know that not only might your kidneys be at risk, but your heart may suffer as well.
After reviewing the medical records of nearly 3 million people, researchers from Stanford University in California found people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) who took PPIs had a 16 percent risk of heart attack.4
A two-fold increased risk of cardiovascular mortality was also noted in PPI users.5 Such risks make sense when you consider that PPIs are known to reduce nitric oxide (NO) in your blood vessel walls.
NO has the effect of