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Acid Reflux Drugs Can More Than Double Stomach Cancer Risk


A study published in the journal Gut has found that the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), medications commonly used to treat acid reflux, is associated with a more than double risk of stomach cancer. The finding builds on earlier research that links the drugs to a heightened risk of bone fractures, heart attacks, pneumonia, dementia, kidney disease and even an increased risk of premature death.

People who carry the bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori in their stomach have a higher likelihood of developing ulcers and stomach cancer. However, even when antibiotics get rid of the bacteria, stomach cancer still often occurs. The study suggests this may be due to the use of PPIs such as Prilosec and Prevacid.

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In the research, scientists examined medical data on 63,397 people who were successfully treated for H. pylori infection. Of these, 3,271 took PPIs; while 21,179 used another class of acid-reducing drugs called H2 blockers like Pepcid, Zantac and Tagamet.

During the study period that averaged 7.6 years, 153 people developed stomach cancer. Although none of them tested positive for H. pylori, they all had long-term inflammation of the stomach lining.

Stomach Cancer Risk Increases with Greater Frequency and Longer Duration of PPI Use

The people who used PPIs had a 2.4-times greater risk of stomach cancer, but those who took H2 blockers had no increase in risk. Frequent use of PPIs was linked to an even higher likelihood, as those who took the meds daily had a more than quadrupled incidence compared to those who took them weekly.

Moreover, the longer the individuals used PPIs, the higher was their risk of developing stomach cancer. Those who took them one year had a 5-fold increase, those who took them at least two years had a 6-fold increase, and those who took them at least three years had more than an 8-fold increase.

Because the risk correlated with frequency and duration of use, the researchers said doctors “should exercise caution when prescribing long-term PPIs…even after successful eradication of H plyori.”

A Safer Approach to Treating Heartburn

In an interview with Live in the Now, noted integrative physician and best-selling author Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum advised heartburn patients to wean themselves off PPIs.

“Although this study does not clearly show causation (just association), it adds one more nail to the coffin of reasons to not recommend long-term use of acid blockers.” Recent large studies have shown that taking acid blockers is associated with markedly increased osteoporosis, dementia and premature death.

“The main argument for using acid blockers long-term has been to prevent esophageal cancer in people with Barrett’s esophagus, which is a modestly precancerous condition. This contention is falling away, as recent studies have shown that the risk of progression of Barrett’s esophagus to esophageal cancer is lower than earlier suspected.” Therefore, the belief that acid blockers prevent esophageal cancer is largely diminishing. This study suggesting that it may actually dramatically increase gastric cancer makes it very likely that the long-term use of acid blockers is very toxic, with little to no cancer preventive benefit. Conversely, the likelihood is greater that it actually increases your risk of developing cancer.

“Because of this, other approaches to addressing reflux, heartburn and similar disorders by improving digestion become ever more important and efficacious. These include plant-based digestive enzymes with meals and even considering a trial of betaine HCl. More detail on my approach to treating indigestion can be seen under “heartburn” in the Cures A-Z phone app. It is important for people to realize that acid blockers are quite addictive, causing a rebound acid hyper-secretion when stopped. Because of this, it is important to use the above supplements to heal digestion, and then to wean off of acid blockers by switching to Tagamet or Zantac for a month.”


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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