A Significant Risk
Researchers at the University of Buffalo and the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Buffalo studied more than 76,000 patients and found that those who were using PPIs were at a 10 percent higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) than those who did not.
This study supports a previous study conducted by the American Society of Nephrology that showed patients who took PPIs were at a 96 percent higher risk to suffer from kidney failure – and 28 percent more likely to develop CKD – than patients who took H2 blockers for heartburn.
A PPI is a type of heartburn medication that blocks the ability of the proton pumps (molecules found in stomach cells) that pump acid into the stomach. H2 blockers inhibit histamine 2, a receptor in the stomach stimulates the production of acid. PPI brand names include Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec, while H2 blocker brand names include Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac. Both types of medications are designed to treat people suffering from severe, frequent heartburn.
Sales of PPIs have skyrocketed even though it has been shown that there are safer alternatives. These not only include H2 blockers but also over-the-counter antacids that have been available since the 1930s, including Rolaids, Tums, Maalox and others. While PPIs have been linked to a higher risk of kidney problems, the other alternatives have not been associated with renal injuries.