Heartburn Drugs May Raise Risk Of Hip Problems

As reported by the Associated Press ( Study Links Heartburn Drugs, Broken Hip by Carla Johnson 12/06), a large study conducted in Britain found that taking popular heartburn drugs such as Nexium, Prevacid or Prilosec for a year or more can raise the risk of a broken hip, markedly in people over 50. The study raises questions about the safety of some of the most widely used and heavily promoted prescription drugs on the market, taken by millions of people.

Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec are members of a class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors. The study found a similar but smaller risk of hip fractures for another class of acid-fighting drugs called H2 blockers. Those drugs include Tagamet and Pepcid. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at medical records of more than 145,000 patients in England, where a large electronic database of records is available for research. The average age of the patients was 77. The patients who used proton pump inhibitors for more than a year had a 44 percent higher risk of hip fracture than nonusers. The longer the patients took the drugs, the higher their risk. The biggest risk was seen in people who took high doses of the drugs for more than a year. That group had a 2 1/2 times greater risk of hip fractures than nonusers.

The researchers speculated that when the drugs reduce acid in the stomach, they also make it more difficult for the body to absorb bone- building calcium. That can lead to weaker bones and fractures. Hip fractures in the elderly often lead to life-threatening complications. As a result, doctors should make sure patients have good reason to stay on heartburn drugs long term, said study co-author Dr. Yu-Xiao Yang of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "The general perception is they are relatively harmless," Yang said. "They often are used without a clear or justified indication for the treatment."

Some people find relief from heartburn with over-the-counter antacids such as Tums, Rolaids and Maalox. But for others, those medicines do not work well. Moreover, heartburn can be more than a source of discomfort. People with chronic heartburn can develop painful ulcers in the esophagus, and in rare cases, some can end up with damage that can lead to esophageal cancer.

Yang said that for every 1,262 elderly patients treated with the drugs for more than a year, there would be one additional hip fracture a year attributable to the drugs. For every 336 elderly patients treated for more than a year with high doses, there would be one extra hip fracture a year attributable to the drugs.

Dr. Alan Buchman of Northwestern University, who was not involved in the research, said the study should not change medical practice, since doctors already should be monitoring the bone density of elderly people taking the drugs and recommending calcium-rich diets to all patients. "Most people are not taking enough calcium to start with," he said. He also wondered if a similar result would have been found in a sunny climate, because vitamin D from sunshine helps with calcium absorption.

Also, Buchman said it not known whether the acid-fighting drugs prevent esophageal cancer. He said the risk of esophageal cancer has been exaggerated in the marketing of these drugs. "I think the risk has been overplayed and scared the community," Buchman said.

Men in the study had a higher drug-associated risk of hip fracture than women, possibly because women may be more aware of osteoporosis and may get more calcium in their diets, Yang said. He plans more research on whether calcium-rich diets or calcium supplements can prevent the problem.

Natural Solutions To Digestive Problems

Over 7 billion dollars a year is spent on over-the-counter and prescription digestive aids for symptoms including acid indigestion, digestive upsets, gas, bloat, poor elimination, and more. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body depends on the healthy digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food.

Unfortunately, cooking and processing methods destroy enzymes in our food that are so necessary for proper digestion. Our bodies can't manufacture enough of the right ones. As a result, our bodies attempt to compensate by withdrawing enzymes needed for digestion from its own "bank". Over time, these heavy withdrawals coupled with skimpy deposits lead to a bankrupt digestive system and ultimately, a lifetime of improper digestion, poor nutrient absorption, and less than ideal cell regeneration-degeneration. Tagamet, Pepcid, Tums, and other antacids, designed to reduce stomach acid, are merely masking the symptoms and may make a bad situation worse by disrupting the body's natural digestive process.

When there is insufficient hydrochloric/gastric acid, whether naturally or from taking antacids, nutrients cannot be absorbed. Antacids also reduce hydrochloric acid so that food isn't broken down completely, resulting in fermentation, allergic symptoms, and painful intestinal problems. Meat needs large amounts of acid to be broken down. Without adequate stomach acid it rots in the intestine, inviting bacteria that can cause painful gas, bloating, and if chronic, colon infections and eventually cancer. In masking the symptoms in the stomach, are we neglecting the real cause of the problems in the pancreas? The pancreas is a digestive organ in the abdomen, located just below the stomach. The primary job of the pancreas is to produce enzymes required for the digestion and absorption of food.

Each day the pancreas secretes about 1.5 quarts of pancreatic juice into the small intestine. The enzymes secreted by the pancreas break down food by breaking the chemical bonds that hold food molecules together. Enzymes secreted include lipases which digest fat, proteases which digest proteins, and amylases which digest starch molecules.

Health Through Self-Education... June's Quest For Digestive Health

Essentials Of Life was officially established in 1994, but was actually founded in the mid 70's, unintentionally, by my wife June, as a result of health problems she had when we were living in Vermont. Despite one doctors' suggestion that she examine alternatives before electing to have surgery, a dairy product triggered an attack that left no choice but to have her gall bladder removed. After the operation, we assumed that her digestive problems would be history.

By the time we moved back to New Hampshire, in 1982, June's digestive problems had resumed. Doctors, even a referred specialist in gastroenterology (digestive system) didn't seem to have the answers. She was diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), but even the recommended dietary changes made little difference. All too often, stomach pain became a normal interruption to her sleep pattern. She read all of the medical books and related articles she could find.

Frustrated and determined to get well, she began reading about natural alternatives. A whole new world opened up when she discovered digestive enzymes. Unlike harsh OTC drugs that interact with and deplete stomach acid, digestive enzymes work in the pancreas to properly break the food down. Foods were once rich with built-in enzymes but have become deficient. Less than two weeks after taking enzymes with meals, stomach cramps previously occurring within a half hour after eating, became a rarity instead of the norm. For under $20.00, years of pain and thousands of dollars in medical costs were virtually erased and Essentials Of Life was being born.

We realize that digestive enzymes may not be the single remedy for every stomach disorder. But, we know that it isn't normal to be sick. Behind every symptom there's a cause. June's dedication to learning about her illness ultimately led to the quality of life she can finally enjoy. More than twenty five years before Essentials Of Life was established, Dr. Jim Perry in Vermont unknowingly planted a seed as he implied that there may be other options to surgery. We only wish we had explored those options then and discovered what we know now.



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Tanning & Natural Health News is a publication of Tan Plus /Essentials Of Life, Barclay Square, 350 Route 108, Somersworth, NH. This publication is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be presented as medical advice. Product statements made have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration.

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