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Common Acid reflux, heartburn medications may increase kidney disease risk

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  • Proton pump inhibitors, a class of drugs used to treat acid reflux and other acid-related gastrointestinal conditions, may increase the risk for developing chronic kidney disease.
  • Two new studies reached similar conclusions on the increased kidney disease risk associated with Proton pump use.


Certain medications commonly used to treat heartburn and acid reflux may have damaging effects on the kidneys, according to two studies. The drugs, proton pump inhibitors, are among the top 10 class of prescribed medications in the United States.

Even though the side effect is rare, and the researchers did not prove the drugs cause kidney failure, the link is worrisome because more than 20 million Americans burdened by the disease and take these pills, made by bards including Prilosec, Prevacid and Zegerid, sold by prescription and over-the-counter in some countries.

Diabetes and hypertension are common risk factors for kidney disease; however, certain medications can also play a role. Two new studies show that increased use of proton pump inhibitors, medications that treat reflux and stomach ulcers, may be contributing to the kidney disease epidemic.

In one study, Benjamin Lazarus and his team, from Johns Hopkins University,  followed more than 10, 000 adults with normal kidney function from 1996 to 2011.

They found that Proton pump users were between 20-50 percent more likely to develop kidney disease. This discovery was replicated in a second study, in which over 240, 000 patients were followed from 1997 to 2014.

“In both studies, people who used a different class of medications to suppress stomach acid, known as H2-blockers, did not have a higher risk of developing kidney disease, ” said Dr. Lazarus. “If we know the potential adverse effects of Proton pump medications we can design better interventions to reduce overuse.”

In another study, Pradeep Arora, from SUNY, Buffalo, and his team found that among more than 24, 000 patients who developed kidney disease between 2001 and 2008 (out of a total of 71, 516 patients), 25.7 percent were treated with Proton pump.

Among the total group of patients, those who took Proton pump were less likely to have vascular disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but Proton pump use was linked with a 10 percent increased risk of   kidney disease and a 76 percent increased risk of dying prematurely.




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