More research is pointing to possible health risks associated with proton pump inhibitors.
This latest study, which was published last month in Nature Communications, suggests people who use acid suppressing drugs, including proton pump inhibitors, are more likely to develop allergies than non-users.
The authors of the paper analyzed health insurance claims submitted for more than 8 million people in Austria (nearly 97% of the population) between 2009 and 2013. They identified any patients prescribed proton pump inhibitors or other heart burn drugs during that time period, as well as all those prescribed anti-allergy medications, including antihistamines and allergen immunotherapy.
The analysis indicated that patients taking gastric acid-inhibiting drugs are twice as likely to need anti-allergy medications later on. In fact, just six heart burn drug doses each year was enough to increase a patient’s risk.
“Stomach acids are really important in breaking down foods and also indirectly in absorbing nutrients,” Dr Elena Schneider-Futschik, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, told News9 in Australia.
“If you reduce the stomach acid, you end up having larger proteins that are then able to go from your stomach into the intestine where they can overstimulate the immune system.”
Proton pump inhibitors are among the most popular drugs in the world. And because of their supposedly favorable safety profile, they’re also among the most overprescribed, with many patients taking the medications far longer than recommended and for inappropriate indications.
Earlier studies have pointed to a range of proton pump inhibitor side effects associated with overuse, including:
Other studies suggest overuse of proton pump inhibitors may increase an individual’s risk for chronic kidney disease, kidney failure, and other renal complications.
More than 12,700 proton pump inhibitor lawsuits are undergoing coordinated pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. All of the plaintiffs assert their long-term use of Nexium, Prilosec, PrevAcid, Protonix, and Dexilant contributed to kidney problems. They further claim that the drugs’ manufacturers long concealed evidence linking their products to serious renal injuries but failed to provide the public with adequate notice of these risks.