Heartburn Pills Linked to Kidney Disease

By 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

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