Volume 1, Issue 12
November 27, 2008

How these heartburn drugs
can cripple you

If you have heartburn, conventional medicine told you for years to reach for an antacid. That all changed, though, with the discovery of the proton pump inhibitor. Now, these drugs are the most frequently advertised medications on television.

As the name implies, they work by inhibiting the body's ability to pump protons. Since this is how the body makes stomach acid, these pills eliminate the production of stomach acid. This is how they relieve heartburn. The most common proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are Prevacidr, Protonixr, Aciphexr, Prilosecr, and Nexiumr.

But if you have heartburn, there are good reasons not to reach for these drugs. In the next issue of my newsletter, I'll show you how they can cause cancer. But more research shows they also can cripple you!

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A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows you how serious the problem is. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine looked at a group of 135,000 people. They were all 50 years and older. They specifically looked at people who had been taking PPIs for up to four years of continued use.

What they found out was that it did not take long for these drugs to cause hip fractures. Those taking PPIs for only one year had a 44% greater chance of breaking a hip than those who did not take them. In real numbers, that's about 8,000 hip fractures caused directly by the drugs.

The longer the patients took the PPIs, and the higher their dose, the greater their risk became.ÿ Those who took higher doses for longer than one year were at great risk. They are 2.6 times more likely to break a hip. That comes out to 9,842 broken hips directly caused by the drugs.

Let me put this in perspective for you. Every year about 250,000 people fracture their hips in the United States. This data suggests that somewhere between 16,000 and 18,000 of those people developed their fractures as a direct result of using PPIs. Many of these are crippled for life.

But it gets even worse. Approximately 30% of all persons with hip fractures die as a result of the break. That places the annual death rate from PPIs at around 5,000 to 6,000 deaths per year.

PPIs cause weak bones in different ways. One of the most obvious is simply by reducing stomach acid. Stomach acid is required for the optimum absorption of calcium from foods. So using PPIs will result in a deficiency of calcium.

But calcium is by no means the only nutrient that requires stomach acid for proper digestion and assimilation. Many other nutrients are also in this category. Most notable among them is vitamin B12.ÿ In fact, the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is decreased stomach acid production. And not only PPIs, but also the other class of stomach acid inhibitors called histamine blockers (e.g. Tagametr, Zantacr, Pepsidr, Axidr) can cause B12 deficiency.

So if you have heartburn, don't turn to PPIs. They could cripple you for life. Or worse, they could kill you!

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD


Yang YX, Lewis JD, pstein S, Metz DC. Long-term proton pump inhibitor therapy and risk of hip fracture. JAMA. 2007 Apr 4;297(13):1429; author reply 1429-30.

Rossi S, editor. Australian Medicines Handbook 2006. Adelaide: Australian Medicines Handbook; 2006. SBN 0-9757919-2-3.

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