Common heartburn drugs may bring kidney risks

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Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), including popular brands like Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid, are widely used around the world.

These drugs help manage conditions like frequent heartburn, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, with about 10% of adults in the United States relying on them for relief.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego conducted a study to investigate the potential risks associated with PPIs, particularly focusing on kidney health.

They used data from the FAERS database, which holds over 10 million patient records detailing voluntary reports of side effects from medications.

The research team narrowed their analysis to approximately 43,000 patients who exclusively used PPIs.

They also examined a control group of about 8,000 patients who only used histamine-2 receptor blockers, such as Zantac or Pepcid, to manage similar conditions without any other medications.

The findings revealed a significant difference in kidney-related side effects between the two groups. Patients who solely took PPIs experienced kidney-related adverse reactions at a rate of 5.6%, in contrast to just 0.7% among those who only took histamine-2 receptor antagonists.

When comparing to the control group, the risk of chronic kidney disease was 28.4 times higher in the PPI group. These patients were also more likely to report acute kidney injury, end-stage renal disease, and unspecified kidney impairment.

Moreover, while the likelihood of experiencing electrolyte abnormalities varied among individual PPIs, the adverse effects on the kidneys were consistent across all five types of PPIs examined in the study.

Despite their benefits in managing digestive disorders, these findings suggest that PPIs may significantly increase the risk of kidney issues. This concern is particularly relevant given the vital role of the kidneys in filtering and removing waste from the body.

The World Health Organization recognizes PPIs as essential for many people’s quality of life. However, these results highlight the importance of careful monitoring, especially for patients at an increased risk of kidney disease.

Healthcare providers are encouraged to educate and warn patients about the potential risks and to monitor their health closely if they need to use these medications.

These concerns are not new, as previous research from the same university in 2017 also indicated that PPIs might promote chronic liver disease in both mice and humans.

This accumulating evidence suggests that while PPIs are effective at easing symptoms of acid reflux and related conditions, they should be used with caution, considering the potential long-term impacts on organ health.

In light of these concerns, patients and healthcare providers are urged to weigh the benefits and risks of PPI use, especially in those with existing health vulnerabilities.

This study, published in Scientific Reports by Ruben Abagyan and his team, underscores the need for ongoing research and patient education to mitigate potential health risks associated with commonly used medications.

If you care about wellness, please read studies about how ultra-processed foods and red meat influence your longevity, and why seafood may boost healthy aging.

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