After 20 to 30 years of smoking, research shows that people
have a 50 percent higher risk of dying than non-smokers.
Now, a major new study in the British Medical Journal1 showed that
people taking PPI acid blockers for two years also had a similar fifty
percent higher risk of dying. Making prolonged use of acid blockers a
deadly problem. Potentially as deadly as smoking for 20 to 30 years.
Fortunately, it is also preventable. But this will require a paradigm
shift in how we address heartburn and indigestion.
Multiple studies have shown that acid blockers called PPIs
are associated with a dramatic increased risk of bone thinning
(osteoporosis), dementia, and a host of other problems. There is a
reason why most animals have evolved to create stomach acid that can
dissolve their own stomach. It is because this acid is critical for proper
digestion and nutrition. Without it, people can be malnourished even
if they are obese.
So it should come as no surprise that there is a high price to pay
for turning off stomach acid long-term.
What The New Study on Heartburn Showed
This large study of over 349,000 people was led by Ziyad
Al-Aly, MD, director of clinical epidemiology at the VA St. Louis
Healthcare System. They compared prescription and over-the-counter
acid blockers called PPIs to much safer and gentler acid blockers such
as Tagamet and Zantac, as well as to people taking no acid blockers.
What they found was stunning.2,3
Although there is no significant increased risk in taking these
medications for a month or less, which is how they are meant to be
used, people taking them for one to two years had a dramatic 25–50
percent increased risk of dying.
The Heartburn Problem
Research has shown that acid blockers are highly addictive. After six
weeks of use, people get a rebound acid hyper secretion when they try
to stop these medications. Put simply, they have a "Niagara Falls" of
acid flow. Because of this, many people dangerously stay on the acid
The Heartburn Solution
It is important to realize that our understanding of heartburn has been
faulty. It is not caused by too much stomach acid, and in fact most
people with indigestion have inadequate stomach acid. This results in
acid reflux when food is incompletely digested after an hour, and the
stomach hits the "return to sender" button. Turning off the stomach
acid keeps the reflux from causing heartburn, but aggravates the
problem. Which is poor digestion.
The solution is actually fairly simple. It is important to realize that
indigestion comes not from too much stomach acid, but from poor
digestion. Digestion can be improved simply by using plant-based
digestive enzymes with meals, along with nutritional supplements such
as DGL licorice (Called Advanced DGL) that enhances the stomach's
protective lining. After six weeks of this, the person can switch from
their acid blocker to Tagamet. This does not completely turn off
stomach acid, so you do not get the rebound acid hyper secretion that
makes PPIs addictive. After a month, they can then stop the Tagamet
and stay on the natural digestion support as needed.
That way they can be off medications and be free of heartburn
pain, while having healthy digestion and improved health. Meanwhile,
occasional indigestion can then be treated with chewable antacids.
Research has raised a concern about taking plain calcium, and therefore
it is recommended that the calcium be combined with magnesium and
vitamin D and K to avoid calcium depositing in the arteries. This can
be found in combination and products such as Immediate Heartburn
Fortunately, with proper nutritional support it is likely that the
problems caused by long-term PPI use can be reversed.
Interesting that another large recent BMJ study showed that
NSAIDs cause approximately 50,000 preventable US deaths a year.
The medical approach has been to try to decrease this by giving PPIs
along with the NSAIDs. This is a very deadly mistake.
Let's look at a quick running of the numbers. In the graph at the
end of the study, it showed that after seven years about 18 percent
of the people had died using safer acid blockers such as Tagamet, as
opposed to 27 percent in the PPI group. This translates to 180,000
deaths per million versus 270,000 deaths. With millions of people
using acid blockers, this translates to over 90,000 excess and
preventable deaths over the seven year period for each million people
using them long-term.
An alternative? Numerous studies show that natural alternatives
are as or more effective than NSAIDs for arthritis, but result in "side
benefits" instead of side effects. They have also been found to be safe
on the stomach and not increase ulcers as the NSAIDs do. Natural
treatments for indigestion are also highly effective. So using these
natural options could easily prevent over 65,000 US deaths yearly.
- Gap in Mortality Rates Between Smokers and Non-Smokers Continues to WidenStudy
- Popular Heartburn Drugs May Boost Death Risk: Study
- Risk of death among users of Proton Pump Inhibitors: a longitudinal observational cohort study of United States veterans Study