If you are among one of the millions of Americans who attempts to alleviate your heartburn with medication or know someone that does, keep reading. A recent study conducted by a group of researchers from Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, suggests heartburn medications, proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H2 blockers, may increase the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency,
H2 blockers and proton-pump inhibitors are stronger heartburn medications which require a prescription from a doctor. These drugs are used to treat chronic acid reflux, which typically occurs two or more times a week and could be a sign of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
Reports have shown over 113 million PPI prescriptions are filled every year and cost up to $14 billion annually. Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer of LiveScience, reported that the study found people who took PPIs “for two or more years were 65 percent more likely to be diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency than those who did not take such medications.” She went on to report additional study findings that “people who took another type of acid-suppressing drug, called histamine 2 receptor antagonists, for two or more years were 25 percent more likely to have vitamin B12 deficiency.”
While these heartburn medications are recommended to be taken no longer than 8 to 12 weeks, many take them far longer. In addition to a deficiency of vitamin B12, which can increase the risk of “anemia and damage to the nerves,”* other studies in the past have connected long-term use of these heartburn medications with an increased risk of bone fractures and iron deficiency. Other reported long-term effects include a “heighten risk of death from infections.”
Now there is an even greater need for further research on alternative methods to alleviating heartburn without the use of these medications.
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Original article on LiveScience.