Heartburn Medications May Increase Fracture Risk

New research in Korea reveals that prolonged use of common heartburn medications like Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec can increase the risk of fractures. Scientists analyzed 11 studies between 1997 to 2011 and concluded that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that are used to reduce production of stomach acid increased the risk of fracture by 29%.

PPIs increased hip fracture risk by 31% and vertebral fracture risk by 54%. Another type of heartburn medicines known as H2 blockers that include drugs such as Pepcid and Zantac, did not significantly increase fracture risk. But, H2 blockers are considered less effective than PPIs in reducing stomach acid production.

The researchers say doctors should consider twice before prescribing PPIs for patient categories such as elderly women, who face a higher risk of fracture. This study was recently published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had mandated that PPIs should carry warning labels about increasing the risk of fracture. In the US, acid suppressors totaled sales of about $27 billion in 2005.

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