Acid Reflux Medication Can Increase Your Risk of Osteoporosis


Choosing the right acid reflux medication for your needs isn’t always easy. After all, there are many causes and symptoms to consider. Furthermore, you need to find the right one that works for you. And that process just got more challenging as researchers have found that some heartburn drugs put users at a greater risk of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones begin to lose their density (bone mineral density or BMD), placing the sufferer at increased risk of a fracture or break. It’s a condition that typically occurs as we age when the body is less able to regenerate healthy new bone.

Although it may not look it, bone is actually living tissue that is constantly renewing itself. It’s made up of a hard outer shell that contains collagen, minerals and blood vessels, as well as a softer core of bone marrow.

Bones are kept healthy and renewed by a supply of proteins and minerals absorbed from the blood, including calcium.

Specifically, it is proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) among the commonly prescribed acid reflux medications that put people at a higher risk of osteoporosis, according to a 2008 Canadian study. Proton pump inhibitors are drugs that stop the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach in order to reduce damage caused by acid reflux or GERD.

The study examined 63,000 people aged fifty or older and looked into their medical records, prescription records, and other relevant elements. Among the group, 15,300 had fractures from osteoporosis, including those of the hip, spine, and wrist.

The participants in the study who had histories of fractures from osteoporosis were almost two times more likely to have used proton pump inhibitors for a minimum of seven years in comparison with other study participants. And sixty two percent of those participants in the study with hip fractures had used proton pump inhibitors for a minimum of five years. However, there was no evidence that the short-term use of proton pump inhibitors would increase the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures.

It should be noted that it is not the proton pump inhibitors that actually cause the fractures.

The study showed only that there is a link between the acid reflux medication and fractures due to osteoporosis. The researchers believe that as the PPI’s block the stomach’s hydrochloric acid, the body’s ability to absorb calcium may be impaired, leading to – or worsening – osteoporosis. However, more study is required to either prove or disprove this hypothesis.

Though the precise link between the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors and osteoporosis-related fractures has yet to be determined, there is enough evidence that should encourage you to discuss the risk of osteoporosis and related fractures with your doctor before starting to use proton pump inhibitors – especially over a longer period of time. Commonly prescribed PPI acid reflux medication includes: Prisolex, Aciphex, Nexium, Protonix, and Prevacid.

If you’re currently prescribed a PPI to control acid reflux it important to continue with your medication unless otherwise advised by a medical professional. If you have concerns over the long term use of PPI’s then raise your concerns at your next doctors visit.

When you speak with your doctor, you will need to work together to decide whether the benefits of taking PPIs outweigh the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures. You may decide to take proton pump inhibitors as a temporary acid reflux medication while other potential life changes or drugs are decided upon.

Those who are most at risk of being effected by this issue are people who are taking or who are about to begin taking PPIs and either have osteoporosis or are at risk of the disease.

Less powerful acid reflux medication may be a better solution for these people. For example, histamine blockers (also known as H2 anatgonists) are able to effectively treat GERD and its related symptoms. Though they are often less effective than proton pump inhibitors, they are not linked to osteoporosis fractures when used over the long term.

Alternatively you may wish to do away with acid reflux medication altogether (don’t forget to speak to your doctor first). This approach is successful for many thousands of people who rely on nothing more than small changes in their diet and some simple home remedies to keep symptoms at bay.