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Heartburn treatments could cause serious—even deadly—problems

Purple pill could invite killer bacteria
Watch enough TV and you’ll learn that you can eat basically whatever you want, as long as you have a bottle of proton pump inhibitors (known to many as Prilosec or Nexium) on hand. Well, the dangerous truth is starting to come to light, as research reveals that taking these pills could have some serious — even deadly — consequences.

All the commercials are pretty much the same. A guy pushes away a plate and slams his fist into his chest, which explodes into animated fire as the chilidog and fries he just wolfed down hit home.

“Heartburn,” he frowns to his friend, who pulls out a bottle of Prilosec or Nexium or some other miracle of modern medicine and smiles. “I never have to worry about that!” he exclaims as he shoves half a cheeseburger in his mouth.

Proton pump inhibitors. Watch enough TV and you’ll learn you can eat whatever you want, as long as you have a bottle of these handy.

Well, hopefully that line of thinking is about to come to an end. A recent report on five studies, appearing in the Archives of Internal Medicine, has some news that I’d like to hope could (finally) stop the PPI party. The bottom line? Proton pump inhibitors can cause some serious side effects.

One of the studies followed 161,806 women between 50 and 79 for eight years. Researchers found that women who took the drugs were at a greater risk for fractures, especially of the spine and wrist.

Two of the studies uncovered a link between PPIs and a deadly bacterial infection. One study found a 74% increase in cases of infections with Clostridium difficile, a sometimes-deadly cause of diarrhea, among people using PPIs on a daily basis.

Dr. Mitchell Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, dropped a particularly big bomb on PPIs, saying that a full 60 to 70% of people who take them probably don’t need them.

So that’s it, right? No more PPIs?

Well, now let’s not be too hasty! We wouldn’t want anyone getting the wrong idea here — just because a drug raises the risk of fractures and might cause deadly bacterial infections, that’s no reason to stop taking them!

After all, as the mainstream press is quick to say, “the drugs are a great help to the right patients.”

They say the answer is “appropriate use.” And what does that mean, exactly? It’s kind of hard to tell when the commercials are telling me to pop a pill every time I’m feeling the effects of a spicy meal.

Sorry, guys, but as much as you try to gloss over the dangers here, it’s just not working. Any negative words against these drugs are negative words against the $13.9 billion a year in sales raked in by the companies that sell them. It’s pretty obvious they’re not going to go down without a fight.

But that doesn’t mean we have to sit around and wait for the mainstreamers to wise up.

Especially when there’s some pretty convincing evidence that these drugs actually CONTRIBUTE to the problem of heartburn and other stomach woes.

Read all about how — and about a solution that cuts to the REAL cause of heartburn — by searching the archive at

“Overuse of heartburn drugs is risky: study,” Reuters (
“Are too many people taking heartburn drugs?,” CNN (