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“Acid Reflux Drugs May Cause or Prevent Esophageal Cancer”

Heartburn or acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux) affects about 20 percent of Americans. Millions of U.S. residents take proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which include lansoprazole (Prevacid), and esomeprazole (Nexium) and omeprazole (Prilosec), both manufactured by AstraZeneca. Over-the-counter PPIs are most often used for heartburn and indigestion and many people end up taking the drugs for months or years. PPIs are some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the U.S., with $14 billion in annual sales. But, significant side effects have been reported with increasing frequency, such as alterations of absorption of vitamins and minerals, metabolic effects on bone density, alterations of drug interactions, alterations of intended effect, infection risk, hypersensitivity response with consequent organ damage, vitamin B12 deficiency and susceptibility to hip, wrist or spinal fractures, increased the risk of heart attack, kidney failure, dementia and death. Because stomach acid kills bacteria, people who take PPIs are also more prone to foodborne infections, such as Salmonella. However, some authors are skeptical of some of the other reported side effects. Some of the reported side effects, such as vitamin B12 and iron deficiency (both of which ultimately result from a decrease in stomach acid), are real.

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